Wisconsin taking the lead
Dan Gillmor points to the Wisconsin Technology Network‘s post regarding Governor Doyle’s signing of a law to force electronic voting machine manufaturers to open their source code. WTN’s updated their post – Assembly Bill 627 called for opening the source code, but the enacted law (pdf) places the source code in escrow, only to be seen in case of a (successful) recount petition, and then only by a representative of each party to the recount. From the bill:
“…each municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of a municipality that uses an electronic voting system for voting at an election shall provide to any person, upon request, at municipal expense, the coding for the software that the municipality uses to operate the system and to record and tally the votes cast.”
From the law:
“If a valid petition for a recount is filed … each party to the recount may designate one or more persons who are authorized to receive access to the software components that were used to record and tally the votes in the election. The board shall grant access to the software components to each designated person if, before receiving access, the person enters into a written agreement with the board that obligates the person to exercise the highest degree of reasonable care to maintain the confidentially of all proprietary information to which the person is provided access…”
This is in addition to laws already on the books requiring that electronic voting mechanisms produce paper ballots for recount, and adds to that requirement the requirement that the paper ballot be presented to the voter for verification before being stored. The law also specifically indicates that the code placed in escrow be determined to be the same code that counts the votes.
While this isn’t a complete solution to the problems inherent in electronic voting, it’s among the first and strongest steps in the right direction.