All We Need is an Open Source Linux-based Voting System

For the first time in history, the Philippine national elections to be held in 2010 will use an automated (electronic) polling system. At this point in time, our lawmakers are debating on the issue of security of the voting machines that will be used in the polls. One Senator even filed a resolution to set aside 100 million pesos (more than $2 million) to anyone who can convincingly hack the new polling system.

In a country filled with dishonest government officials, there’s no doubt that there are people out there who would do anything in order for them to win the election. So to prevent fraud from happening or at least minimize it, I have two simple suggestions:

1. Use Open Source

Utilizing open source software will contribute to a more transparent automated system as anyone with the knowledge can read and review the code and determine if the system is capable enough or find out if it’s being manipulated.

2. Use Linux

We all know how secure an operating system Linux is when compared to the more widely used Windows. So I think one of the best ways to achieve an extra-reliable hard-to-hack automated polling system is simply to use Linux.

To our dear readers, please share with us your views regarding this matter via comment.


  1. My sentiments, exactly. But the most important thing -- is that the Filipino people as a whole knows about the system. And not take the matter for granted....

    One other thing -- people should focus on the current issue and not on politicians as celebrity. Voting is only the beginning -- people are obligated to work towards the GOALS and OBJECTIVES of politicians they voted otherwise everything becomes a comedy.

  2. Very good idea. This should be implemented to other countries as well.

  3. Of course anything is better than windows, so Linux is a good choice, but the word on the street is that BSD is more secure than even Linux, so maybe that would be an even better idea.

  4. Jason KitKat, the UK "expert" on electronic voting systems(who has advised the government) concluded that the best form of voting was the current one employed in the UK, i.e paper votes, counted by hand. All electronic systems do is add another layer of potential fraud, which is harder to spot than before. Also its far harder to identify who has committed the fraud than when paper votes are used.What's the point?
    Linux would do best to stay well clear - why get tarred with that brush eh?

  5. Please read over the comments here

    FOSS is only as secure as the person in control -- and only IF what you think is being used is actually being used. It's very easy to adjust a FOSS app a tiny bit to thwart its intended effect.

  6. Have you seen what they did using an open source solution in Humboldt County California:

    This was only for "verification" purposes, but it could easily be adapted for a complete voting system:

  7. Here are some comments from Brad Friedman on that Humboldt County project:

    ...local software programmer Mitch Trachtenberg, who developed the simple, transparent, open-source optical-scan software, using off-the-shelf hardware for the citizen's project --- including the ability to post all scanned ballots onto the web for citizen review --- may have inadvertently revealed the scam perpetuated by the nation's electronic voting machine vendor's who were allocated some $3.9 billion federal tax dollars for their efforts at creating proprietary systems, which don't even work as promised...or as required by federal law...

    You can read his entire review of the project on his website bradblog dot com

  8. I think the Voting system would be based on OpenBSD rather than Linux. I am also a Linux user for both server and desktop. But any system can be secure as the people who manage it. Naturally, BSD administrators would be more expensive than Win admins, but it is worth for it. Windows was more expensive on licensing issues, as the TCO is much higher and the risk of being hacked is greater than that of Windows, than in Linux & BSD.

  9. There must always be a paper trail for voting. While not perfect, its not nearly as easy to manipulate.

    I vote absentee every year so that I am assured a nice paper ballot.

  10. The brazillian voting system was totally converted from windows and dos to a customized Linux with a lot of security features . The operational system and programs were completed on july 2008 and used at the national voting of october/november 2008 with great success.

  11. I really don't know what the issue is with the slow adoption of electronic voting. Heck, I use my Visa Electron card to buy products and services over the Net. I use Safaricom's M-PESA (mobile money) to send people money any where in Kenya as long as they have a mobile phone. Politicians are just dragging their feet because they know the CAN'T cheat. Period. What's so hard to have EV system with a printed receipt for both the voter and an independent body for backup purposes?? I get a receipt when I pay to buy something at the department store.
    Any one who wants to make EV proprietary or does not want it at all is trying to screw you.

  12. I also feel voting should take place over a few days so that one region goes to the polls with adequate security in place. Then you move on to the next region and all the officials move too. This way you're not stretching yourself thin by having too few officials manning the ballot boxes and subjecting them to thuggery like what happened here in Kenya after the 2007-2008 polls. This stuff is so easy to implement. It just takes will power and the desire to do it right the first time around.
    My bank knows who I am if I want to withdraw money. Surely figuring out who's supposed to vote shouldn't be rocket science.

  13. Being open source based is just the begining of the path. One can have a perfectly open system that still can be frauded. As a Brazilian, I am not as proud of our now linux voting system as some hackers may be. I do not roleheartdly trust our voting system.
    For one, I believe it can identify voters, and that is a very dangerous thing.
    Another reason, being fully electronic, no one can guarantee if a tampering has been made. If you change the tally, how could one tell if the vote was changed. It´s all vapourware.
    Without phisical audit trail options, no voting system can be trusted, being open or not. Remenber: Nothing is more open than a paper ballot alone - than again, history has tought us that nothing is more prone to fraud than it.

  14. What's so damn hard about reading paper ballots?