Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Democracy Fund
Research & Events

End-to-End Verifiable Remote Voting Specification and Assessment Study

End-to-end encryption and election system scientists, usability specialists, audit and voting system testing experts will join with election officials to specify and evaluate a new approach to secure, online voting for military, overseas and disabled voters.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The U.S. Vote Foundation (formerly the Overseas Vote Foundation) works to provide high-quality voter services by developing online tools to assist American citizens register to vote and access absentee ballots. With an eye toward future innovation in the field, the organization outlined recommendations to move forward with an internet voting system in a July 2015 report titled “The Future of Voting: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study.”

The report examines the future of voting and the possibility of conducting secure elections online. Specifically, the report explores whether End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting (E2E-VIV) systems are a viable and responsible alternative to traditional election systems. This report contains the most complete set of requirements to date that must be satisfied by any Internet voting system used in public elections. Developed by a team of experts in election integrity, election administration, high-assurance engineering, and cryptography, the report starts from the premise that public elections in the U.S. are a matter of national security.

Current internet voting systems, the report notes, are riddled with problems: there exists no way for independent third parties to verify their accuracy, and public audits have continually demonstrated that such systems are fundamentally insecure. Current systems also do not guarantee privacy, nor are system vendors held accountable if privacy is breached. Given these issues, moving forward with an internet voting system at this time would be ill-advised. Instead, an internet voting system must be secure, usable, and transparent, and the report outlines five key recommendations in order to reach these goals.

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

The report explains that potential internet voting systems must be end-to-end verifiable (E2E-V), meaning that voters must be able to verify that their vote was recorded correctly, check that the system included their vote in the overall count, and count the recorded votes. Before making the transition to internet voting, the report asks that all of the current in-person systems become E2E-V. By doing so, engineers can assess in-person E2E-V performance and identify areas for improvement to better ensure the functionality of a later adopted internet system.

The report authors also recommend that all public elections using internet voting be usable and accessible, particularly for individuals with disabilities.

And lastly, building off of the idea that the security of America’s voting system is a matter of national security, the recommendations also call for the development of E2E-V internet voting to meet the most rigorous engineering requirements of mission and safety critical systems. An executive summary of the report can be found by clicking here, and the complete report can be found by clicking here.