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Open-Source Voting

Its proponents could put pressure on voting-machine makers, but critics say it's not a cure-all

3 min read

In the aftermath of the Florida recount debacle of the 2000 presidential election, the U.S. Congress appropriated billions of dollars for state and local governments to buy electronic voting systems. But in the years since, a string of problematic elections has led much of the voting public to join early critics in concluding that available machines are buggy, easily subverted, and impossible to accurately audit.

So perhaps it was only a matter of time before members of the open-source movement would enter the fray, with the claim that their kind of technology can guarantee free and democratic elections. Already, two bellwether states, California and New York, have taken notice. This spring, California’s state assembly considered a bill mandating that new voting systems be based on open-source software. The bill didn’t pass, despite support from the California secretary of state, whose office certifies voting systems. But at least one major (and for now undisclosed) California city is considering open-source voting. So the issue is likely to come up again. Meanwhile, New York’s state board of elections decided late last year to waive certification fees for open-source voting systems.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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