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Linux Software Government Politics

Linux On Brazilian Voting Machines, the Video 252

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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  • by socsoc ( 1116769 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:39PM (#25373317)
    from TFA:

    The hardware is publically bought (in recent years, Diebold has been the main provider), but the software is developed in house by the Electoral Justice.

  • by scott_karana ( 841914 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @03:40PM (#25373325)

    Yeah, I find it hilarious that in one story Slashdotters can rant and rave about how terrible Diebold is, and then just gloss over that fact in another which just so happens to also be about Linux.

  • by brazilian brain ( 12673 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:02PM (#25373629) Homepage

    From TFA:

    All political parties have access to the source code, and digitally sign the executable code, and thus can confirm, at any individual machine, that the running software is the official one.

  • by vbraga ( 228124 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:03PM (#25373639) Journal

    Actually it also, obviously, a matter of law in Brazil (but Federal law). Machine's software is owned by the "Electoral Justice" and is digitally signed by all parties, so, any party can check if a machine is running the "correct" software.

    Part of machines prints all votes as other way to test the system.

    Machines used to run Windows CE, I think. Probably Linux was chosen was a way of driving costs down.

    Diebold is the main hardware supplier to the Brazilian government but not the unique or exclusive one.

    It's not a perfect system, but a pretty good one. Most Brazilian likes it (well, I'm Brazilian too).

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:25PM (#25373943) Homepage

    Voter verified paper trail. IIRC, the machines in Brazil have one. In addition random hand recounts of precincts are needed as well.

  • by MikeDirnt69 ( 1105185 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:37PM (#25374101) Homepage
    These machines logs everything into a paper roll. Even if you clean up the data, you still have it on paper.
  • by Zantetsuken ( 935350 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:38PM (#25374115) Homepage
    Cool that it runs a Linux kernel, but every single pic from TFA clearly shows Diebold written all over (literally) - everything from the chassis/mold, GUI, and even the POST screen are customized to have Diebold on it...

    If only I had the mod points I had 2 days ago...
  • by fugue ( 4373 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:22PM (#25375451) Homepage

    What if we did this:

    When you go to vote, you take a one-way hash (md5sum or something) of your SSN or SSN+lastname+phone or some other unique identifier, and enter that along with your vote.

    An official website lists each person's hashed ID and non-hashed vote. I can always check that my vote was registered correctly (and maybe repeat (before some deadline) until it is what I wanted it to be).

    I can download everyone's vote and count them myself.

    If there is a discrepancy, the responsible election officials will be flayed alive, and their heads impaled on stakes placed around the town walls for such occasions.

    What's the risk here? If voter profiling reveals that someone is probably not computer-literate then they can "safely" change that person's vote, as it's unlikely that that person will confirm? Still more countable than we have now. Of course, maybe computer-illiterate people don't, on average, have the education or news access to vote responsibly and shouldn't be allowed to vote anyway?

    What am I not considering?

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.