Microsoft and NYS Election Law.

According to this blog entry (link), Microsoft is actively trying to get a relatively new New York State Election Law to be changed. This is pissing me off.

I was unaware but am quite happy to see that the Empire State has some of the strictest regulations in the country regarding electronic voting machines. One of the regulations is that the software must be “open source”, which means that anyone can take a look at the programming code that makes up the software and observe as to what makes the program tick. This removes any doubt about vote tampering through back-door and other unscrupulous means.

Microsoft doesn’t like open source software all that much; all versions of Windows and the vast majority of Microsoft programs are “closed source”, which means that only Microsoft knows what goes on inside their programs. This has made me nervous in the past, as I’ve worked for a computer company and I know what goes on inside corporate walls. The NYS election law requires that any software used on electronic voting machines must be “open source”, and that would include the Windows operating system that it’s running on. Microsoft doesn’t like that. Electronic voting machines would have to run Linux or FreeBSD (both open source, to the best of my knowledge) in order to comply with the election law.

Small wonder I stick to my aging Mac PowerBook G4 instead of using Windows Vista on my HP laptop.

My question is: why do we have to use electronic voting machines at all? The lever and flip the switch machines that we’ve used in New York have worked fine for a good number of years. Why this huge push to change to something else? They’re basically used just once a year, I’m sure someone somewhere could maintain and repair these machines for their annual duty.