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Unsupported Voting Machines

Date: 2016-10-22
Tags: foss voting

I recently read an article about how Pennsylvania’s voting machines run Windows XP. While these devices aren’t (normally? ever?) connected to a public network, which limits the surface area of an attack, it is none-the-less appalling that critical parts of our infrastructure are; first, being run on proprietary, unvettable software; and second, being run on software without a maintenance and support contract. To me, this clearly represents why public infrastructure should be based on Free, Open Source Software. We, as a people, should not be hamstrung and left in an insecure place for no reason than a company decided to abandon a release. (Which, baring a support contract, they have every right to do.) If these machines were based on Free Software it’s both possible for support to exist indefinitely and it’s quite possible that support and upgrades will exist and continue to exist — look at some of the devices still supported by the linux kernel.

Additionally, these voting machines, with perfectly fine hardware, may not be able to be upgraded; we will need to spend money on new hardware to support the new software the vendor peddles.

We, as the public, need to push our elective officials, and appointed bureaucrats, to use software that we know can be kept up-to-date regarding security.

When putting out public files, “open data”, the dumps should be in formats that don’t require expensive software to use — even the poor should have access to data!