2 Nov 2009: Takoma Park: first ever e2e binding election

Takoma Park, Maryland, for its local election today, is embarking on something of a radical experiment. They’re using Scantegrity‘s verifiable voting technology. The “normal” voter’s experience is that they get what looks like a standard optical-scan bubble ballot, but the bubbles have invisible ink in them that reveal a code when the voter selects the bubble with the proper pen. Voters can optionally write down these codes and use them later to verify their ballot appears on a public web site, yet without being able to prove how they’ve voted to anybody else. MIT Tech Review has nice summary of how it works.

Cryptographer Ben Adida, who is unaffiliated with the Scantegrity project or any other party in the election, has agreed to act as an independent auditor of the election. Working from nothing but the public specifications of how the system works, he’s independently verifying that the results are correct.

It’s important to note that, for this particular election technology, the votes are being cast on traditional paper ballots that could always be counted, recounted, or otherwise inspected manually. That’s not strictly necessary for election security — our own VoteBox system works more like a paperless electronic voting system and has the same security guarantees as Scantegrity — but it’s essential when rolling out a new technology where a real election with real politicians’ careers is at stake. We need to know that real elections can be really verified, and we need a fallback position if the crypto somehow goes wrong.

Of course, for these technologies to truly get out of the lab and into the field, we can’t expect Ben Adida to personally verify every election, worldwide, nor should we trust him to. What we can expect is that tools that Adida and others like him build will be picked up and used by local election watchers, party officials, news outlets, and the like. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.

(Note: Truly, the first ever binding e2e election was a web-based election for the president of a Belgian university, based on Adida’s Helios system (full paper). This used similar cryptographic mechanisms, but no web-based election system can ever have the coercion resistance or privacy guarantees of voting in a classical voting booth.

Edit: The University of Ottawa Graduate Students Association had a binding e2e election in 2007 using PunchScan, a predecessor to Scantegrity.)

28 Sep 2009: ACCURATE Comment on VVSG v1.1

A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable and Transparent Elections (ACCURATE) submitted public comment today to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on their draft Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, version 1.1 (VVSG v1.1). The VVSG provides national certification requirements and testing protocols for voting systems against which many states require their voting systems to be certified.

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17 Jun 2009: Call for Voting System Demonstration Proposals

As part of the 2009 Electronic Voting Tech Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (EVT/WOTE 2009), we would like to hold a system demonstration session. We envisage this session as an opportunity for workshop participants to examine and “play with” voting system implementations (or functioning prototypes). The format will be similar to a poster session, with space allocated for each system and participants walking between the different demonstrations. The demo session is mainly aimed at new or non-traditional voting systems (such as implementations of end-to-end verifiable systems), but if space allows we may also include demonstrations of existing systems.

If you would like to demonstrate a system, please email the following details to the EVT/WOTE chairs (evtwote09chairs@usenix.org):

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17 Jun 2009: EVT/WOTE ’09 Program Available

Join us in Montreal, Canada, August 10–11, 2009, for the 2009 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (EVT/WOTE ’09).

This year, the organizers of the USENIX/ACCURATE Electronic Voting Technology Workshop (EVT) have merged EVT with the IAVoSS Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (WOTE) to create a joint two-day workshop (EVT/WOTE ’09). EVT/WOTE seeks to bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines, ranging from computer science and human-computer interaction experts through political scientists, legal experts, election administrators, and voting equipment vendors.

The program features a keynote address by Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law; system demonstrations; and sessions on usability, security, trustworthy elections, forensics, and more.

The full program can be found at http://www.usenix.org/events/evtwote09/tech/

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28 Jan 2009: Call for papers: EVT/WOTE ’09

The call for papers is now available for EVT/WOTE ’09 (August 10–11, 2009; submissions due April 17, 2009).

This year, the USENIX/ACCURATE Electronic Voting Technology (EVT) workshop and the IAVoSS Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (WOTE) have merged into a single two-day workshop, co-located with USENIX Security ’09 in Montreal. The combined Workshop will feature distinct EVT and WOTE sessions; accepted papers will appear in a joint Proceedings (grouped by session). Please see the EVT/WOTE ’09 page for more information.