Originally posted on: 2005-11-29

Original location: http://blog.chrisheath.us/?p=14

Interesting slashdot story, if only because of the local aspect.

From the slashdot submitter:

A North Carolina judge ruled that Diebold may not be protected from criminal prosecution if it fails to disclose the code behind its voting machines as required by law. In response, Diebold has threatened to pull out of North Carolina.

From the msnbc article:
The dispute centers on the state's requirement that suppliers place in escrow 'all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system,' as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software. That's not possible for Diebold's machines, which use Microsoft Windows, Hanna said. The company does not have the right to provide Microsoft's code, he said, adding it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows.

This smells a bit funny to me. As it does to other slashdot readers.

Reader gunnk smells what I'm smelling:
Diebold is trying to interpret the statute to mean more than it says.
NC doesn't want to know who coded Windows or to get Windows source code: NC wants to see the software package that tracks and tallies the votes. Yes, you could try to stretch the meaning of the statute, but NC isn't trying to do that: Diebold is trying to in order to claim that compliance with the statute is impossible.
The real issue here is that Diebold doesn't want NC to see what's in Diebold's code. Makes it awfully suspect to me...

Another reader sj88 makes a good observation:
Can anyone give any insight on how hard it is to make a voting program?
I would think it's not very hard. Quite easy actually.
So any proprietary information wouldn't be that sensitive anyways. Kind of like hiding the secret of making your own lemonade.

Some say that the NC statute says that all code running on the machine (operating system included) needs to be reviewed by the state, and the programmers involved listed as well. That makes sense, and may force the state to switch from windows based voting machines. Interesting....

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