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Re: Open voting platform for the 2020 election - volunteers needed

From: bandali
Subject: Re: Open voting platform for the 2020 election - volunteers needed
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2020 22:32:13 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.50 (gnu/linux)


I saw this today and thought I would send a reply.  What follows are my
own personal opinions, and not necessarily those of LibrePlanet, the GNU
project, or the FSF.

Chris Franklin via libreplanet-discuss
<> writes:

> Needed: One or more teams who can self-organize to develop an
> open-source voting app/platform by early October.

First, to be clear, LibrePlanet, the FSF, and the GNU project are not
concerned with "open source", but rather Free Software.  Please see
<> for the free software
definition, and
<> on
why "open source" misses the point of free software.

Second, I believe designing and implementing a suitable and secure
online voting platform in less than 3 months would currently be an
*extremely* ambitious goal for a well-resourced and experienced team of
professional software engineers and security researchers; and basically
unattainable for a group of volunteers on a part-time basis.  There are
*many* challenges involved in designing a secure online voting system,
including several currently open research questions that need answering
in order to be able to hope to achieve the guarantees offered by the
secret ballot method currently used in the US and in several other

Andrew Appel, Professor at Princeton University doing research in areas
such as formal methods, programming languages, and program verification,
has spent well over a decade studying voting technologies and their
flaws.  I highly recommend watching the following relatively short but
enlightening talks by him about the history of voting and voting fraud,
and the topic of internet/online voting:

- <>
- <>

I only wish he had used the words "crack/cracking/cracker" instead of
"hack/hacking/hacker" when talking about breaking security, per

Appel has a great collection of resources about voting technology on the
<> page of his website that I
highly encourage folks potentially interested in the topic to check out.

The issues around online voting are of course not unique to the US, and
similar conclusions and recommendations on avoiding it for the time
being have been made by researchers in other countries, such as Canada:

All of this is before we even get to discussing the crucial importance
of software and user freedom when it comes to computer-based voting,
including how it is largely absent from most if not all mobile systems
currently available and used by people today.

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