A Canadian open-source-voting example

Story: Open Source Electronic Voting Call to ActionTotal Replies: 6
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Mar 15, 2005
1:16 PM EDT
Here, in The Netherlands, we have e-votings as well, though the source is closed. Bad thing! (Though it might change due to public resistance) Though in Cancada, an alternative raised. See: http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/1800/469 (Loads slow)

Mar 21, 2005
7:49 AM EDT
Have you by chance seen this open source solution: OSOSS (http://www.ososs.nl/article.jsp?article=9698) available in the Netherlands? I don't speak Dutch so I can't translate the page, but your analysis would be very helpful.

Mar 21, 2005
12:19 PM EDT
Well, in short the message is that the government decided to release the software used for e-voting (called Kiezen op Afstand: Vote from Far) under the GPL, primary for transparency: so that anyone can check that the software does what it's supposed to do. Well, one can say the ones that made this decision really *do* get it! It's nice to see that for once. And I checked, and it's no joke. The software is really available at the site of OSOSS which is a platform for exchange of software for governmental agencies but also anyone interested in Dutch open source software.

However, they don't say if they will carry on using this software for e-voting nor if the next versions of it will still be under the GPL. The software can be downloaded as a ZIP file only. OSOSS is not a Sourceforge type thing. So it stays a nice gesture, but it still lacks a bit for me to take it completely positively. They expect us to give them an amount of trust I'm not willing to give them. I just know the current government too well...

Mar 21, 2005
1:11 PM EDT
Good news for us Dutch people!

Here you go for the translation (bit messy, but you get the idea), the numbers in brackets point to the footnotes:

The Dutch Minister for administrative renewal has decided to release the source for Voting on a Distance under GPL. The OSSOS program has offered support for that, amongst other things in the form of advice on the licensing-model, and the organisation of administration.

The department of home affairs (Dutch intern issues) held an experiment from june 1st to 10th, 2004. In that experiment, people living outside the Netherlands were able to bring out their vote for the European Union [1], via telephone and internet. More info is at the link [2].

For this experiment, the department of home affairs has ordered (the Dutch department of) LogicaCMG [3] to develop a voting service, and (The Dutch state) acquired the intellectual property for all program-code developed for this voting service. The program code is now available under GPL. That means, anyone who is interested, can download, view and use the code. The main reason to open-source this code was transparancy. A government offering a new service to vote is maybe able, by means of giving openness about the software used, to stimulate the use of this service. Citizens themselves, or interest groups, are because the openness, able to control if this software indeed does what it's meant to do. It's also the intention to let future developments to this software be available to the government - who paid for this software, and for other interested groups / people.

You can find the software on the software-exchange-platform of OSSOS [4]. On this exchange-platform, you can also ask questions or place remarks on the forum [5].

Lastly, some remarks about the GPL (trivial for us), if you'd like to download, look at the MD5 checksum (same in Dutch Language), you should read usermanual.pdf and LEESMIJ EERST.rtf (Readme first, think it's Dutch).

For questions, you should contact koa _at_ bprbzk _dot_ nl (Almost all Dutch people understand / can speak English, so feel free to mail them in English. Start you're subject with "Engelse vraag", which is Dutch for "English question", and it should work.)

You can download the zip at [url=http://www.ososs.nl/downloads/broncode stemdienst Kiezen op Afstand 2004.zip]http://www.ososs.nl/downloads/broncode stemdienst Kiezen op ...[/url]

The source-code looks silly, but according to one of the developers, Joe Kiniry, working at the University of Nijmegen, that's because it's "proven to be correct", his remark is in English, so you can read it yourself I think. Just look for his name and you'll find it.

[1] (Note from hkwint: citizens of the EU vote once in five years for the European Parliament, in which 731 representatives for whole Europe from all 25 different countries have a seat) [2] http://www.minbzk.nl/grondwet_en/verkiezingen/inspringthema_... (Dutch) Summary: The experiment is to test the possibility of make the voting less independent of the place where people are. 5351 votes came in by telephone or e-mail. The experiment also covered a test of letting people vote 'where they want' at the municipality-votes in 4 different, 50k-100k-citizen municipalities. [3] http://www.logicacmg.com/countries/United_States/Page8000 [4] can be downloaded at https://uitwisselplatform.ososs.nl/modules.php?name=Download... Then click "Kiezen op afstand". This downloads the zip-file. [5] The only interesting thread on the forum told it's not possible to compile the thing without the LogicaCMG-framework. This is because the LCMG framework isn't open-source, so can't be included in the download, because otherwise it would violate GPL.

Mar 21, 2005
1:17 PM EDT
Another, maybe more interesting documents sums up the "voting from a distance" efforts outside the Nethrelands. It's at http://www.minbzk.nl/contents/pages/10428/041110bijlagebuite... It's a bit messy, but for a large part in English.

The interesting part: Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, Latvia, Austria, Slovenia the UK, Iceland, Suisse and New Zealand, are also working on E-voting.

Mar 22, 2005
8:14 AM EDT
Wow. This is really helpful! Thanks for the translations. So, it doesn't seem as if the Dutch government is trying to implement e-voting at polling places, only for citizens who can't make it to the polls or are out of the country?

Mar 22, 2005
9:46 AM EDT
The Dutch government isn't trying to implement it (yet), but Amsterdam does (see the paragraph called Amsterdam)! However, in The Netherlands, a 'rule' was adopted - saying in 2006, the governemnt should only use open standards, and the same thing is true for Belgium, however, I don't know their deadline for it. So it follows the voting-system should use open standards also. They even try to build a community to check the program code.

The experiment talked about in last post was also tested in another situation: Dutch people are always assigned a 'voting-office' (could be a school or gym) in their municipality where they should vote. If they want to vote somewhere else, even if it's in their own municipality, they have to file a (paper) request for it. This means a lot bureaucracy. Now, this experiment also tested, if people could go to another 'voting-office', and than vote using a computer. So the voting-computers are still in the voting-offices. That's also necessary to help voters who can't use a computer very well. People are however free, to choose to which 'voting-office' in their municipality they'd like to go.


Everywhere in The Netherlands, except for Amsterdam, people vote using a voting computer. ( See http://www.election.nl/bizx_html/Europe/index.html for an example how they look over here, provided by a company called Nedap) However, in Amsterdam they still use a red pencil. For years I didn't know why, but now I found out: They don't want to e-vote when the program is closed! They rather stick to their pencil. The city-council has adopted a rule, which says they want to e-vote using open-source, but such an open source program didn't exist back then!

I think when this system is proven to work, it might be introduced at a bigger scale, but for now, nobody knows I think.

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