Cryptographic Technology for a More Certain Vote

| 12/8/2008 9:01:58 AM

Zoinks! Until recently, it’s been all too easy to dismiss cryptographic voting technology—i.e. systems where voters reveal hidden codes that enable them to confirm their votes—as a wonky pipe dream, reports Technology Review. But now, there’s a new system designed to work with the optical ballot-counting scanners already in use.

This is how it works: I go to my neighborhood polling place and fill out a ballot per usual. But I use a special pen, which reveals a secret code inside of any bubble I mark. I think, “Damn. This is just like something Q would’ve dreamed up for James Bond.” My ballot has a number, so I make a note of these codes for myself—and then later, go online and make sure that my ballot number and confidential codes match up. Voila!

Imagine what such a system would have done in Minnesota, where the Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken Senate race recount, flush with contested ballots, is still pending a month after votes were cast. Minnesota Public Radio has been posting a sample of the contested ballots online; some of the votes seem so clearly intended for a particular candidate that it’s left me wondering just how many mistakes do slip through. With a cryptographic system, voters could be their own election judges.

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