Dark Source shows the inner workings of a commercial electronic voting machine, the Diebold AccuVote-TS touch-screen voting terminal that has recently been adopted in many U.S. states. What you see here is a representation of the software program that runs inside this machines. To be specific, it is a printout of version 4.3.1 of the AccuVote-TS source code 49,609 lines of C++. 720 pages of the printout are suspended, and several hundred additional pages can be accessed on microfiche.
Calling its source code a trade secret, Diebold has asserted its proprietary interest in protecting its intellectual property. Therefore the code, which had been obtained over the internet following a 2002 security failure at Diebold, has been blacked out in its entirety in order to comply with trade secrecy laws.
What is on display, then, is not the forbidden source code, but rather the state of affairs in which we find ourselves today, one in which the critical infrastructure of democracy in the United States is becoming privately owned, and being private, is also being made secret.
Premiered at “Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy” exhibition, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany.
March 19th – August 7th, 2005
Photos of Dark Source on Flickr
Thanks are due to Cindy Cohen, Sarah Gifford, Mark Hansen, Deiter Jansen, Tom Keenan, Tom Levin, Luke Smith, Peter Zuspan, Dan Wallach, Hong-kai Wang and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, all of whom provided indispensable help and guidance in the conception and realization of this artwork.