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California, Texas Serve as Testing Grounds For Open Source Voting Technology

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One variety of electronic voting machine.

Electronic voting machines implemented under the Help America Vote Act are reaching the end of their useful lifespan, and cash-strapped counties are unlikely to receive federal funds for their replacement.

Credit: Verified Voting Foundation Inc.

Twelve years ago, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandated the use of new voting technology in U.S. counties and provided $3.5 billion to help them buy voting machines. However, those machines are now nearing the end of their lifespans and cash-strapped counties are unlikely to receive further federal money to replace them.

Several counties in California and Texas are hoping that so-called open source voting will be the solution. Open source voting software is not quite open source in the traditional understanding--software that is accessible by the general public--but rather in that it is available among election officials and would work on any computer. This eliminates the need for new voting machines using proprietary software tied to a given vendor.

However, county election officials say vendors would still be required to maintain and service voting systems.

Kammi Foote, county clerk-recorder and registrar of voters for Inyo County, Calif., notes the security measures common to county government systems, such as cryptography, could be added on top of new open source voting systems. "The transparency that the system affords goes a long way to ensuring its accuracy," Foote says. "Everyone who needs to know how the system works, does, because it's not a proprietary system that's a mystery to anyone besides the developer."

From County News
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