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e-Voting security and acceptance

22 March 2013

Pyrros Chaidos

The aim of this project is to improve the security and acceptance of internet and in-booth electronic voting. This includes identifying, defining and achieving such security properties, but also (with equal importance) making the appropriate decisions with regards to trade-offs between potentially incompatible security properties. Initial research in the area of e-voting security was focused on developing security notions that paralleled those of physical voting systems (such as correctness, ballot secrecy and universal verifiability to expand on auditing).  However, as new issues such as the unsupervised environment problem for internet voting were identified, newer security properties were required, namely coercion resistance. Another desirable property of systems utilising public boards of encrypted votes for transparency is that of everlasting privacy, i.e. votes will remain secret in the face of cryptographic advances.  Many of the above properties are believed (and some shown) to be incompatible which makes the evaluation of trade-offs even more important. A second goal of this project is to develop reusable cryptographical techniques that may be transferable to other domains. Much of the analysis of internet voting security falls into the domain of computer security and cryptography, and it is also likely that new models or cryptographic primitives will need to be developed to encompass potentially new functionality or that proof of concept implementations might be required. Evaluating the impact of security issues on the other hand, is not something that can be tackled using computer science alone, but requires a broader view of the voting process. This includes understanding the goals that societies set for the electoral process, as well as the behaviour of voters and other actors interested in influencing an election. Remote voting via post or other means is already the most popular form of voting in a number of regions and, given this potential for wide use, the security of internet voting will be critical factor in the democratic process.