Research: The Principle of Public Access to Online Elections

POLYAS has for the first time presented an improved version of cast-as-intended-verification at this year’s E-Vote ID. It should allow vote verification in online elections for everyone. 

POLYAS Implements the Principle of Public Access

Elections in Germany are conducted under election principles as well as the principle of public access. According to this, everyone has the right to observe vote counting, thus monitor the precise conduction of the election. Only casting the vote itself has to be secret. So far, this was only possible on Election Day at the polling station. However, POLYAS is working to transfer the principle of public access to online voting.

The E-Vote ID is an international convention about electronic voting held in Bregenz, Austria this year. Dr. Tomasz Truderung, Head of Research at POLYAS, presented a new option of cast-as-intended-verification. It described a procedure by which the voter can confirm if their vote was cast as intended in online elections. The method of cast-as-intended-verification has been applied already in municipal elections in Norway and in the Swiss canton Neuchâtel.

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A Code to Confirm the Vote

The cast-as-intended-verification works the following way: in an online election the voter receives their voting credentials including a link to the online voting system via email or post. The voter can now sign into the online voting system to cast their vote. Next to every voting option on the ballot is a combination of randomly picked letters and numbers, the so-called Return Code. It is allocated to one voting option only. In addition, every eligible voter receives different Return Codes on their ballot. This is to make sure that each Return Code is unique.

Once the voter has cast their vote, they receive the Return Code through an alternative electronic channel. If the codes match the voter can be sure that their vote was received and confirms this. If the codes do not match, the voter has the chance to repeat casting their vote. 

POLYAS-Tip: Read more about secure voter authentication with POLYAS now!

Manipulating the Online Election Is Made Difficult

The cast-as-intended-verification as presented by POLYAS only needs slightly more computing power than the current procedure. This is decisive when voters cast their vote on mobile devices and data volume has to be kept low. Moreover, the additional strain on the online voting system servers stays low. 

Apparent contradiction between secret and public election solved with POLYAS Return Code

The Return Code is necessary to keep the secrecy of the vote in online elections. The cast vote is still anonymized in the voting system. The individually allocated Return Codes go hand in hand with the principle of public access of elections. The online election stays secure.