Appeals Court Says E-Voting Company Doesn't Need To Reveal Source Code

from the this-again? dept

Back in January, a district court turned down the request from the losing candidate in a Florida election trying to see the source code of the e-voting machine, since it appeared to lose a ton of votes. The judge in that case worried that exposing the code to experts for review (not to the whole world) would somehow violate the company’s trade secrets. An appeals court has now agreed, and will not force ES&S to hand over the code even though a report between the two cases showed that ES&S knew its machines were buggy while experts like Ed Felten show that a bug in the software could explain the mistakes found in the system. But, of course, protecting the “trade secrets” of a company that can’t program straight is apparently more important than, say, a functioning democracy.

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Comments on “Appeals Court Says E-Voting Company Doesn't Need To Reveal Source Code”

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Fred Flint says:

Re: On the plus side.....

In a democracy, all voters need to remember they are only considered ‘mice’ by each of the political parties and what it all comes down to is whether you prefer to be eaten by a white cat or a black cat.

That’s not a racial reference.

It could easily be cream-colored cats vs. calico cats but you’re going to be eaten, whatever you think and whether you like it or not.

I’ll attribute this to Tommy Douglas of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party in Canada.

By the way, he also thought up the idea of universal health care, so poor people wouldn’t die quite so often in hospital emergency rooms.

Chris says:

Boo Hoo

I’m surprised at techdirt. Are you implying that our free government and the trust we have in it is more important than keeping some companies “secrets” secrete? I am outraged that you would suggest something so bold!

I demand that you withdraw your statements and side with the E-Voting company. If you don’t, I may be forced to issue a DMCA, contact your ISP and/or take legal action*

*denotes sarcasm

anymouse says:

Trade Secrets in a voting machine's source code?

How exactly would there be trade secret information in the tallying source code? Common sense says that if a person votes for candidate A, you count one vote for Candidate A from that person, and add it to the current tally. There should be NO trade secrets in a voting machine, unless there is something fishy going on with data manipulation.

When you pick candidate B, how many ways are there to indicate that you picked candidate B? Are there any trade secrets involved in that selection or it’s recording? How can there be ‘trade secrets’ in a voting machine if all it’s doing is recording and tallying the actual votes that were entered? The answer is that there shouldn’t be, and all the protesting to the contrary is to keep people from reviewing and finding the real ‘secrets’ that are hidden in the voting machines source code (how it is programmed to ignore certain votes, counts them for the wrong candidate, etc – not that any of this would even be in the source code, unless the company was rather stupid, this manipulation is all done externally at the polling stations…)

Tom Mills says:


Too many people do not understand the gravity of how the kind of, at best, technical mistake, and at worse, real conspiracy will affect the outcome of our democracy for the next who knows how many years. Saddly there are those that will exploit any opportunity to win an election at any cost. And those that would do that will Pay companies like this millions of dollars while the ultimate cost is paid by the citizens that sit by and let it happen.

Anonymous Coward says:


Now every E-voting machine supplier in existence knows about this decision and the precedent that has been set by it. The only thing that will possibly put this ruling under question will be if a few major elections involving these machines are contested.

And sad thing is that most of it will be some sore politician that wants to cry foul.

Geeb says:

It's because it's rubbish

The UK ran a trial of e-voting in the recent local government elections. When the results came in, one particular area did a manual recount. They found that the e-voting machines had “discounted 56.1 per cent of all votes that had been cast.”

Half the electorate in that area didn’t have their vote counted.

If my machines did that, I’m damn sure I’d be embarassed about anyone else seeing the source code!

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