First wicket: Sequoia Voting Systems open-sources its software

One of the more controversial voting machine companies - Sequoia - which has been embroiled in controversies like the U.S. New Jersey election discrepancies and it’s subsequent threat letters (which were because Sequoia believed any investigation would reveal its intellectual property through source code ! ), has finally decided that it was in its (and the general voting public’s) best interest to open source its software.

Sequoia’s press release quotes:

“Fully disclosed source code is the path to true transparency and confidence in the voting process for all involved,” said Eric Coomer, vice president of research and product development for Sequoia, in the press release. “Sequoia is proud to be the leader in providing the first publicly disclosed source code for a complete end-to-end election system from a leading supplier of voting systems and software.”

And barely a year back, it was on the verge of suing the government, to prevent its source code from being revealed to independent, third party verifiers.

A Sequoia executive, Edwin Smith, put Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi on notice that an independent analysis would violate the licensing agreement between his firm and the county. In a terse two-page letter Smith also argued the voting machine software is a Sequoia trade secret and cannot be handed over to any third party.

In all I think this is a huge credit for Sequoia and something that should be followed by every government contractor in India or abroad. Every argument relies on the software vendor being the ultimate authority and trust of the software that governs our voting systems - be it general elections or housing plans or even the National ID Project. As citizens, we need to understand that we should be able to have as much confidence in our governance software as its processes.

The Right To Information should have source code as part of it.

A game software, for which you have the freedom of choice to purchase, is something that you can live without having the source code. As is demonstrated by Sequoia - open source is the only way to have confidence in governance software which millions have to use without any choice.


First wicket: Sequoia Voting Systems open-sources its software


October 29, 2009

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