Doc Ruby writes to tell us about an article in the Baltimore (MD) Sun, reporting that someone sent a package to a former legislator containing what appears to be Diebold source code. From the article: "Diebold Election Systems Inc. expressed alarm and state election officials contacted the FBI yesterday after a former legislator received an anonymous package containing what appears to be the computer code that ran Maryland's polls in 2004... The availability of the code — the written instructions that tell the machines what to do — is important because some computer scientists worry that the machines are vulnerable to malicious and virtually undetectable vote-switching software. An examination of the instructions would enable technology experts to identify flaws, but Diebold says the code is proprietary and does not allow public scrutiny of it."I'm not one to encourage industrial espionage, but this is the very mechanism of our Democracy we're talking about, so I don't feel conflicted. Voting is the core aspect of our Democratic Republic - in fact, it's what makes it a Democratic Republic. Why on earth do we have to trust a corporation with the life of our Republic? Why do we have to TRUST anyone?! Where are the patriots in this country! Where are the men and women in the long tradition of American radicalism that say "NO! I will not entrust my rights to my fellow man!" Human nature does not change!
Maryland's primary elections last month were ruined by procedural and tech problems. Maryland used Diebold machines, even though its Republican governor "lost faith" in them as early as February this year, with months to do something about it before Maryland relied on them in their elections.
The Diebold code was secret, and was used in 2002 even though illegally uncertified — even by private analysts under nondisclosure. Now that it's being "opened by force," the first concern from Diebold, the government, and the media is that it could be further exploited by crackers. What if the voting software were open from the beginning, so its security relied only on hard secrets (like passwords and keys), not mere obscurity, which can be destroyed by "leaks" like the one reported by the Sun? The system's reliability would be known, and probably more secure after thorough public review. How much damage does secret source code employed in public service have to cause before we require it to be opened before we buy it, before we base our government on it?
The entire POINT of America is that we are a land of inalienable rights - not granted by government, but granted by our shared humanity and only guaranteed by government. Instead, we've become a land of snivelling cowards, begging for our inalienable human rights to be abridged in order to approach a phantom "safety" that, by definition, will never arrive. We have forsaken our heritage, and we are all besmirched by the shame of that cowardice.
If we have a revolution again in this country, we need only one manifesto: the discarded Constitution that I love so dearly.
(pause) I really don't get angry easily. Very few things in life have made me yell. But I love this country - the Great Republic - and I can feel the rage boiling inside me when I see how we are changing its fundamental character. If you attached an electromagnet to Jefferson's corpse, the rate at which he is spinning in his grave could power the eastern seaboard.