Elections and Public Confidence: Getting It Right

  • Date & Time: Nov 20, 2019, 12:30 pm
  • Speaker: Josh Benaloh, Senior Cryptographer, Microsoft Research
  • Location: 205 Cabot Intercultural Center
Josh Benaloh, Microsoft

Abstract: When you vote today, you cast your ballot and then you hope.  You hope that your ballot will not be lost, you hope that it will not be altered, and you hope that your ballot and the ballots of other voters will be counted correctly.  You hope, but you never really know.  This is fundamentally different from other modern endeavors where you can, for instance, check that your purchase arrived as desired and that your bank account was correctly charged.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  We can conduct elections that allow voters to have the same confidence in the correct recording and counting of their votes that they have in their other endeavors  — and this can be done without sacrificing the secret ballot or allowing voters to show their votes to others.

In this talk, Josh will explore how verifiable election technologies are not only possible but are available today.  Microsoft has built upon decades of academic research and is releasing a free, open-source toolkit that will enable election equipment vendors to make elections fully verifiable.  When used, voters will be able to check the correct recording of their votes, and anyone will be able to check the correct tabulation of the recorded votes.  Why live with uncertainty about your vote?  And why ask a court to order a recount when you can conduct a recount on your own?  We can do better, and your local election officials can make it happen.