Verifiable Internet Voting (VIVO): Moving Theory into Practice


CALL: 2012

DOMAIN: IS - Information and Communication Technologies





HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: Electronic VotingApplied CryptographyProtocol DesignSecurity

START: 2012-10-01

END: 2014-09-30


Submitted Abstract

lively debate among enthusiasts and skeptics of electronic voting technologies. The most challenging setting is to run elections over the intrinsically insecure Internet.Existing pilot systems — in Switzerland and abroad — are far away from satisfying all the requirements brought up by the scientific community. A key requirement demanded by experts is public verifiability, which allows the electorate to verify the correct outcome of an election based on the publication of the processed data. From a scientific point of view, reports on seemingly successful pilots will never be sufficientlyconvincing without verifiability. Political scientists even consider the availability of proper verification procedures a fundamental consequence of the democratic right to vote.The planned activities in this project are motivated by the broad discrepancy between theory and practice in electronic voting today. For example, while cryptographic primitives such as homomorphic encryption, threshold decryption, zero-knowledge proofs, or secret sharing are widely accepted as indispensable tools for creating securecryptographic voting protocols, they are only rarely applied outside of academic research. A very general goal of this research project is to diminish this gap between the theory and practice of Internet voting and to push the deployment of the latest research achievements into next-generation systems to be developed in Switzerland and abroad.To achieve the general project goal, various research activities with corresponding sub-goals are dispersed among ten different work packages. Two initial work packages are needed to setup the exact project framework based on the existing research literature. To move the theory of verifiable Internet voting systems closer towards thepractice of real elections, a number of open questions need to be studied. Answering these questions is the content of the project’s five principal work packages, in which the verification procedure, the public bulletin board, the use of trustworthy hardware devices, the protocol’s underlying business processes, and general usability issues willbe further investigated. The remaining work packages are reserved for implementing and testing a prototype system and for the dissemination of the results.The planned project is a collaboration between two e-voting research groups from the Bern University of Applied Sciences and the University of Luxembourg. The partnership and the complementary competences of each involved group will create the necessary synergies to realize both the theoretical and practical aspects of the project and to link them together. Today, theorists and practitioners have often completelyopposite viewpoints of the same fundamental questions. Bringing these opposite views together is a key challenge and an important goal of this project.

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