On this forthcoming weekend the Australian state election takes place, and in Victoria State they will be using a new e-voting system to improve secrecy, reliability and user-friendliness. But how secure are such systems? And do people trust such systems?
These are key questions for Prof. Peter Y A Ryan, e-voting expert at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) from the University of Luxembourg. The technology that will be applied at this weekends state election is based on Ryan’s original voting concept called “Pret-a-Voter” that he developed in 2004.
“The new voting system includes mainly two advantages compared to classical ballot systems,” says Ryan: ”It guarantees ballot privacy and offers an encrypted receipt at the same time, so the voter can verify that his vote was correctly counted.
Furthermore it reduces the probability of unwanted invalid votes by using a touchscreen that gives extensive support, for example to handicapped people or people with language issues.” Building on Peter Y A Ryan’s fundamental contribution, the system is the result of a collaboration between experts from Luxembourg, the University of Surrey (UK), the University of Melbourne (Australia) and the Victorian Electoral Commission.
In recent years, computer scientists, mathematicians, sociologists and psychologists are developing new voting systems that should offer more comfort, less costs, increased turnout of voters plus increased security and trust. Beside the positive aspects of using digital technology to support elections, like the one used in Australia, every technology brings with it risks of manipulation.
“Of course, IT experts are able to make e-voting systems very secure, but they will never be able to reduce the risks to zero. Every electronic system can be hacked, but with smart encrypting, the risk of a manipulation or the loss of secrecy of votes can be minimized”, says Ryan, who is specialized on such encrypting mechanisms: “Also pen and paper based elections can be manipulated - so the pros and cons need to wisely be deliberated and systems need to be developed further.”
The history of e-voting started in 18th Century with lever machines in the US and moving on through punch cards, optical scan and touch screen machines. Similar technological experiments have been conducted in Europe and beyond. Some countries have experimented and even introduced internet voting, notable Estonia. All of these have been shown to be vulnerable to attack, often large-scale and virtually undetectable.
The crypto/security community have made significant strides in the last decade or so in designing schemes with remarkable security properties. In the past few years we are starting to see implementations of these designs trialled for real elections, notably the upcoming elections in Victoria State.
”Arguably such systems provide much stronger assurances of integrity and secrecy of the votes than conventional, pen and paper hand counting,” adds Ryan: ”The challenge remains however to convince the various stakeholders, politicians, election officials, voters, of their trustworthiness. The arguments are subtle and involve some understanding of the properties of cryptographic primitives, so the challenge remains to convey sufficient understanding and instill confidence.”
Details on the actual system applied at the Australian State Election are explained in a youtube video provided by colleagues from University of Surrey: http://youtu.be/cSrpwc7qQvE .
Launched in 2009 by the University of Luxembourg, SnT is an internationally recognised leading research institute that together with external partners establishes Luxembourg as a European centre of excellence and innovation for secure, reliable, and trustworthy information and communications technologies (ICT). www.uni.lu/snt
http://wwwen.uni.lu/snt - SnT: Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust at the University of Luxembourg
Sophie Kolb | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
German Research Foundation supports new theoretical physics project at Jacobs University Bremen
18.12.2018 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy