Authentication aims to verify that something is genuine. It describes not only the process but also the result of verification. Authentication is often used to verify identities. Proving the a person's identity over the internet is a common authentication problem which is solved through multi-step authentication procedures.
Authentication in elections
When voting via ballot box, the polling card or voter notification card is insufficient for authentication purposes. In addition, it's necessary for voters to bring an official document like a passport, ID or drivers license to the polling place to verify their identity.
Authentication in online elections
Authentication in online voting systems ensures that only eligible voters listed in the electoral roll can vote. A common authentication procedure involves using a PIN/TAN: the voter logs in with their personal voter-ID (PIN) and a one-time-password (TAN). The online voting system compares the data with the electoral roll and the validator, which guarantees that only eligible voters can cast their vote.
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The voter-ID should have a clear personal feature, like an employee, student or member number, or the person's date of birth. Each voter's unique password is generated by the POLYAS voting system and sent to voters via email. The security level can be upgraded by using a different method of distribution. For example, sending the password via SMS to a specific mobile device. Authentication with an electronic ID is also made possible with online elections.
See also: Polling card
, polling place
, data protection