"Voter-Verifiable" Voting System Ensures Accuracy and Privacy

George Washington University
22-Oct-2008 11:15 AM EDT, by George Washington University

Newswise — Approximately two-thirds of Americans voting in the November Presidential election will cast their votes on paper ballots. How can voters be assured their votes are counted and kept private? GW Assistant Professor of Computer Science Poorvi Vora and doctoral student Stefan Popoveniuc discussed and demonstrated "voter-verifiable" voting system, Scantegrity, a multi-university project. Scantegrity involves optical scan ballots, invisible ink, and a fool-proof way for voters to ensure their ballots are correctly tallied.

Scantegrity is a vote-counting system that enables individuals to verify that their ballots have been collected and accurately tabulated. Scantegrity is the only such system in the country that can be used with current optical scan ballots and does not change the voting experience for users.

Each optical scan ballot has a serial number, and every choice on the ballot has a special confirmation number attached to it. Using a special pen, voters select their choices, and when they do so, a special confirmation number associated with each choice is revealed; this number does not reveal the voter's choice. The confirmation numbers are posted publicly following the election, and voters can check to see that their confirmation numbers have been recorded. To obtain the election tally, the list of confirmation numbers is decoded in a manner that can be verified by any organization or individual who wishes to check the mathematics. The decoding and the verification do not reveal the candidate choices of a voter.

Scantegrity is a joint project of University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Ottawa; University of Waterloo; University of Newcastle upon Tyne; GW, and David Chaum, its chief inventor.


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