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29 September 2018

Electronic Voting

by Alexandra Albu

xkcd joke about voting
Picture taken from xkcd

The idea of being able to vote in an election remotely, without going to the polling place, appeared quite a long time ago. It is appealing for a couple of reasons, such as the possibility to increase voting turnout. However, e-voting* is not generally viewed as a complete replacement of paper voting, but rather as complementary to it.

E-voting is a more complex problem than e-banking or e-commerce because of the compulsory requirements of assuring both privacy and correctness of the voting process. For example, an open problem of e-voting is represented by the possibility of voters to sell their credentials to someone else who can vote on their behalf (1). This situation can be alleviated by allowing voters to cast their vote multiple times, with their last choice being recorded as valid or even permitting to cast a paper vote too, this last one having priority over the electronic ones (2).

People have not yet agreed on a theoretical solid basis for e-voting, so there is still a long way to go before reliable practical implementations come out.

Nonetheless, some countries, among which Estonia, Norway or Switzerland, have made attempts to integrate e-voting into their electoral systems.

The most important developed technologies: secret sharing schemes or other homomorphic techniques [12], [17], [42], mix-nets [6], [29], blind signatures [5], [7] or, more recently, blockchain [some links].

Bibliography:

[1] Schneider A., Meter C., Hagemeister P.: Survey on Remote Electronic Voting (2017). arXiv preprint arXiv:1702.02798.

[2] Madise Ü., Martens T.: E-voting in Estonia 2005. The first practice of country-wide binding Internet voting in the world. Electronic voting (2006), 86.

* Electronic voting is sometimes used as a broader term, referring also to the use of machines which facilitate the voting process at the polling place. In this post, however, by electronic voting I mean remote online voting.

tags: electronic voting - secret sharing