December 7, 2008

End-To-End Verifiability of Elections

Jim Adler wrote in his Blog, "Counting votes in secret is just a bad idea."

I agree!


Election officials have done their work in secret for too long (although this has changed some in recent years with the birth of voter activist groups). The public has a right to know that votes are counted correctly and one way that could be accomplished is by posting all the votes online so anyone could do their own recount.

Least you think this idea couldn't possibly work, it was done recently in one California county and citizens discovered, after doing their own recount, that the official certification of the election was incorrect - it was 200 ballots short.


Mr. Adler takes the idea even further by asking, "...how about allowing any voter to check their individual vote?" Is that possible?"


Yes! There is a new concept in voting technology - whether you are talking about paper ballots, electronic ballots or even online ballots and that is
end-to-end verifiability. A recent Salon.com article said, "The premise is mind-bogglingly counter intuitive: to be able to be sure, with a high level of certainty, that your vote was recorded and counted accurately without revealing whom you voted for. And that you (yes, you) can verify that this happened exactly as it should have."

All of that is ostensibly possible using advanced cryptographic techniques. Just check out the work of
Ben Adida and the Helios Voting System that implements an open audit web service. You can learn more by reading Mr. Adida's blog or listen to him talk at Google by clicking here.

Transparency is a key ingredient for total election integrity. The public deserves what Mr. Adler calls, "an unobstructed view" of everything surrounding the counting of ballots.

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