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Electronic Verification

Electronic Verification for E-voting: A Dead End for Voter Confidence PDF  | Print |  Email
By Sean Flaherty, Verified Voting Foundation   
June 02, 2008
Paperless electronic voting is in retreat, its popularity done in by disturbing security reviews of current e-voting systems and significant voter concern about the integrity of elections. Optically scanned paper ballots, which also use software to count votes but allow software-independent hand audits and recounts, are the most common voting system in the United States.  A number of states that have purchased paperless electronic voting machines are moving to adopt optical scan systems, with accessible ballot-marking devices for voters with disabilities.  Approximately 60% of America's voters live in jurisdictions in which voter-marked paper ballots will be the primary voting system in the November elections.

But we live in a technological age, and to some it seems logical that in crafting laws governing voting systems we not “stifle innovation” by closing the door on paperless voting.  The present generation of systems was a bust – but could a new generation of paperless voting systems contain enough redundancies that paper ballots or voter-verifiable paper records could become unnecessary?

Cryptographic voting systems have been touted as a way of doing away with paper ballots.  For starters, “cryptographic” is not a word that associates readily with thoughts of transparent and publicly verifiable elections, but what does it mean?  Cryptography is the art of coding and decoding messages, and forms the basis for computer security. It allows us to conduct electronic commerce.  For more information, see RSA Laboratories' Frequently Asked Questions on cryptography. Is what is good for e-commerce good for voting, though?