Secure Voting Systems

Research Mentors: Laurent Michel

The advent of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) after the 2000 presidential election encouraged state and towns to initiate the transition to modern voting technologies deemed to be more resilient to the type of failures encountered at the time. Electronic voting equipments can play a significant role in this endeavor, yet they also introduces a swath of issues and vulnerabilities which, if exploited, can have a dramatic impact on elections. Indeed, electronic voting solutions are seemingly mundane tasks that modern technology should be able to address. However, the cocktail of requirements imposed on voting systems such as privacy, the inability to coerce voters, resilience to tampering and auditability, to name just a few, create challenges that are too often incorrectly handled as well as vulnerabilities that jeopardize the integrity of the electoral process. Designing and evaluating secure voting systems is a complex endeavor that requires an analysis of the equipment, the processes envisioned for their use as well as their operating environment. The purpose is to assess vulnerabilities, the potential of attacks and the mitigating measures that can be employed to ensure a desired level of security and resilience to skilled attackers. It is also to design and evaluate audit processes and tools to ensure that the electoral processes do unfold according to plan as well as detect any deviations, human errors or possible tampering.

Components for Student Participation Research tasks for REU participants include evaluating voting equipment, voting processes, internet voting solutions and auditing solutions and processes. In particular, it will include the construction of a machine assisted audit station that reduces the cost and time needed to conduct an audit without sacrificing the advantages conferred to a manual audit process. The work will include the relevant technological and procedural issues. The supervision will be ensured by the research mentor, as well as senior staff of the Voter Center.