At the Build 2019 developer conference today, Microsoft made a concerted effort ensure voting is more secure and transparent. The company launched ElectionGuard, a software development kit (SDK) that is centered on making votes secure.
Among the abilities of ElectionGuard is to make voting systems auditable and verifiable. Voters can track their decisions on a web portal through a unique code that is given just to them. Furthermore, users have the option of confirming their vote was correctly handled and not tampered with or wrongly counted.
ElectionGuard is an SDK that gives developers the ability to integrate these tools into their own election solutions. This could be news outlets, voters, polling organizations, and even candidates.
Microsoft says it is using homomorphic encryption to encrypt the data on the SDK. Developed by Microsoft Research, homomorphic encryption provides “mathematical procedures – like counting – to be done with fully encrypted data.”
The company explained how ElectionGuard works:
“By running an open election verifier, anyone can securely confirm that the encrypted votes have been correctly aggregated and that this encrypted tabulation has been correctly decrypted to produce the final tally. This process allows anyone to verify the correct counting of votes by inspecting the public election record while keeping voting records secure. The use of homomorphic encryption to enable verification is separate from and in addition to the process of paper ballots counted as an official election tally.”
In terms of auditing, the SDK can function alongside other statistical auditing solutions to create an electronic record of all votes. The tool can also be used by election authorities to choose records at random and compare them with their own records to verify results.
At Build 2019, Microsoft confirmed it is already working with some partners to introduce ElectionGuard to voting machines. However, those machines are still in development. As for the SDK itself, it is expected to be launched through GitHub this summer.