Does Microsoft "own" voting in the U.S.?

A North Carolina judge has jumped hard on Diebold, the leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines. This issue is a state law that correctly requires voting machine manufacturers to escrow (provide) all of the code used in a voting machine so that it can be audited by an independent third party.

Diebold uses Microsoft Windows as the underlying operating system in the machines, and says it is not allowed by Microsoft to provide the Windows source code. Diebold has now threatened not to sell their machines in North Carolina.

It is bad enough that Diebold has based the company's machines on a proprietary operating system, but worse still that the company thinks it does not have to be accountable. Voting is one of the fundamental lynchpins of the republic; without honest and auditable voting processes, as a country, we are at huge risk.

Diebold should have anticipated all this when the machines were still on the drawing boards, and the fact that they thought their approach was adequate is worrisome. What other time bombs are ticking away in the machines?

How should they have done it? There are plenty of open source (i.e. easily auditable) operating systems that could have been used to power the machines. Or they could have easily written their own--it's not like entering some names, displaying buttons, and counting the number of times a button is pushed is rocket science.

North Carolina should toss the machines out and sue Diebold. Anything else puts our country at risk.

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