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Linux Software Government Politics

Linux On Brazilian Voting Machines, the Video 252

Posted by kdawson
from the eat-your-heart-out-diebold dept.
Augusto writes "Just 10 days ago, 130M Brazilian voters were turned into users of one of the largest Linux deployments worldwide: the 400,000 electoral sections in all of the 5,563 Brazilian municipalities were running electronic voting machines, and the Linux kernel was running in all of them. These voting machines have been used in Brazil since 1996, and are rugged, self-contained, low-spec PCs. We've discussed the technical details of this Linux deployment and implementation elsewhere, but I thought it would be interesting to show some pictures (and a movie) of Linux booting on these voting machines. So I asked for official permission and thus was helped by a technician while I took some quick pictures and made a small movie showing the boot process, where you can actually read the kernel messages."
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Linux On Brazilian Voting Machines, the Video

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  • Free vote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant.j.warkentinNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:33PM (#25373221) Homepage Journal

    Free software for free votes, what a great match-up. Plus, it beats the Diebold machines running on Windows CE that kept crashing. [nytimes.com]

    Incidentally, I just voted in our Canadian federal election and we're still using the pencil-and-paper and human-counted voting method. Slower, but still the most reliable and secure method IMO.

  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:36PM (#25373267)
    If it's coded properly, open sourced and widely scrutinized, electronic voting would be more resilient than pen and paper voting.
  • by Brigadier (12956) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:38PM (#25373291)

    yea your right, what we need is a bunch of paper, marked in #2 pencil in a box. Yea that is much more secure. not everyone can hack an encrypted voting machine, everyone can steal a box and reprint voting forms.

  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:55PM (#25373531)

    Physical security is something we're really good at. Thousands of years of experience. That doesn't mean that there are no failures, but in general you can at least detect that tampering took place and that it was deliberate.

    With voting machines, you get a bunch of places where candidates happen to win by a 16384 vote margin -- is that deliberate tampering, machine error, or maybe just plain luck? You'll never know, and therefore you'll probably never catch the criminals.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:59PM (#25373583)

    If banks can transfer billions of dollars every day safely and securely (in many cases without even a paper trail), there is no reason why a decent electronic voting system can't be made. Compared to an ATM, a voting machine should be a piece of cake, you don't have to worry about verifying the user's identity. You don't need to check the balances and rights. All you need to do is accept and record the current user's vote, them reset for the next user.

    Do give us open source so there are 50,000 coders doing Q&A on it. Do give us a paper trail so that if there is any suspision then the vote can be verified. Do involve election officials in at least the requirements process.

    Don't give us a function that clears all votes made on the system so that polling officers can 'adjust' the vote. Don't give us hardware which uses the same exact key to unlock every case. Most important, Don't try to cover it up if you screw the pooch; let us know so the recount can be performed by hand.

  • by krakround (1065064) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:13PM (#25373773)

    By forcing elections to be a laborious, manual process, it becomes much much harder to create and run a conspiracy to hijack an election.

    Once elections are heavily automated, then a much smaller group can take over and decide the outcome. Open source doesn't necessarily help since the attacker needs to introduce a run time systematic bug.

  • by pm_rat_poison (1295589) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:20PM (#25373877)
    Why do people think that the operator between electronic and traditional voting is "XOR"?
    Can't you have both?
    You can always use electronic voting that prints out paper votes, which are cast in a real life ballot. The voter then knows that nothing has been tampered with, the press gets ultra-fast draft results and the final results come from manually counting the printouts.
  • Re:Free vote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nathanbp (599369) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:22PM (#25373909)

    With pen and paper voting in the US, we'd need 10 times as many people to rig the election, thus greatly increasing the chance that someone would talk about it. Whereas with computerized voting machines, we don't have that problem.

  • Brazil FTW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by juliohm (665784) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:25PM (#25373941)
    As a Brazilian, born and raised here, I can say this is one of the few things I'm proud of in my country. Ever since they implemented the electronic voting process, things have never been more efficient. It may seem a bit "too open" by using open source code for this type of procedure, but I've seen articles explaining the entire process. Rest assured, the "open-sourceness" of this idea is the least of their concerns. The entire process is controlled and verified by multiple agents and doubled checked for fraud. All political parties are allowed to point representatives that personally follow the whole process of gathering disks, transmitting data and adding up all the votes in one central server. As far as the people are concerned, the whole thing is very transparent and does not rely entirely on computer encryption, but also on human verification and validation. Any data transmitted is done via a secure government Intranet, and never via public Internet (as one may wonder). The source code of the operating system is maintained and updated by the government under strict security policies. As far as I can tell, this beats the hell out of any bag of paper ballots. Any ellection here takes at most a few hours to get the results to the people. We usually know the results of it on the same day we vote, just in time for the evening news.
  • by liquidpele (663430) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:34PM (#25374875) Journal
    Oh don't be stupid. It would be wise to keep all the votes either in one big encrypted file. You think when they ask for the electronic votes that you can just say "oh, no one came to vote" because you deleted that file? That's just one way to mitigate it.

    e-voting is not the problem, it's just another tool to use for the voting process. A good system, either electronic or physical is needed to curb any and all fraud. Personally, I like a combination of the two (ie, e-voting with printed ballots for the re-counts).

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