The belgian Government publishes source code for election(reginal and European) software
The Belgian government this week has made available to the public the source code of the applications used for the regional and European elections held on 7 June, Digivote and Jites.
The same software will be used in upcoming elections.
The specifications of documents regarding the results of the elections, exchanged between the local voting machines and the central servers of the federal government, have also made public. The source code and file format documentation can be found on the web site of the Directorate General of the Elections.
The source code was not made available prior to the elections. According to a spokesperson of the directorate, this was done so that hackers would not have a chance to ruin the elections. The directorate assured that the version available on-line is the same as the one locked away for verification purposes, should anything go wrong.
According to the Directorate this is the same software that was used two years ago for the federal elections, and which will be used again for the next elections.
Guido De Padt, minister of Internal Affairs, recently launched a campaign to promote awareness for valid voting. The electronic voting system does not allow an invalid vote, however it does allow a blank vote.
The voting machines are not without errors. According to the supervisors of one of the voting bureaus in the Belgian city of Lovendegem, during last elections, using this same software and system, “two out of three hundred distributed badges where not returned, probably because of people authorised to vote for someone else, got confused”.
The source code is made available without any kind of licence, public or proprietary. One of the files in the source code is available “under the terms of the GNU GPL 2” licence, which may require the entire application to be published under a GPL compatible licence.
A spokesperson for the Directorate could not immediately comment on questions regarding licences and copyright. However, Ywein Van den Brande, a Brussels-based lawyer specialised in software licences, said that making the software available as download is a form of distribution. This means the government should at least add the GNU GPL licence text and print the appropriate copyright notices. “It is a little shocking the government is not aware of this.”
Directorate General of the Elections (in Dutch, French and German)
Digivote and Jites source code (zip files)