Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why Can't Microsoft Treat Us Like Georgia?

What's really going on with Microsoft's refusal to comply with New York's voting system software disclosure requirements?

As both the Times-Union and election integrity activist Bo Lipari have noted, Microsoft has basically told New Yorkers who want to ensure that their voting systems are accurate and secure to take a hike. As Bo notes:

New York State Election Law, Section 7-208 states that the voting system vendors "shall place into escrow with the state board of elections a complete copy of all programming, source coding and software employed by the voting machine, system or equipment."

But Microsoft, whose software is used on several voting machines being considered by New York, will not cooperate, explicitly stating it will not allow its code to be placed in escrow accounts with the state.

Bo states that Microsoft "is taking the same stance that voting machine vendors have always taken – the public cannot have access to the software we vote on."

There's one problem with this theory. Microsoft seems to have complied with at least one other state's escrow requirements. As this blog post points out, Diebold appears to have provided the State of Georgia with code for Microsoft's Windows CE (and certainly, it could and would not have done this without getting the code and approval to share it from Microsoft).

So, why is New York being treated differently? Just asking . . . .

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