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Human readable paper verification of Pret a Voter

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Ryan



The Pret a Voter election scheme provides high assurance of accuracy and secrecy, due to the high degree of transparency and auditability. However, the assurance arguments are subtle and involve some understanding of the role of cryptography. As a result, establishing public understanding and trust in such systems there remains a challenge. It is essential that a voting system be not only trustworthy but also widely trusted. In response to this concern, we propose to add a mechanism to Pret a Voter to generate a conventional (i.e. human readable) paper audit trail that can be invoked should the outcome of the cryptographic count be called into question. It is hoped that having such a familiar mechanism as a safety net will encourage public confidence. Care has to be taken to ensure that the mechanism does not undermine the carefully crafted integrity and privacy assurances of the original scheme. We show that, besides providing a confidence building measure, this mechanism brings with it a number of interesting technical features: it allows extra audits of mechanisms that capture and process the votes to be performed. The mechanism proposed also has the benefit of providing a robust counter to the danger of voters undermining the receipt-freeness of property by trying to retain the candidate list. Furthermore, we show how the paper audit trail can be extended with cryptographic elements that ensure the integrity of the paper trail and allow for the safe use of voting machines with a touchscreen user interface.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lundin D, Ryan PYA

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: School of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2008

Pages: 14

Print publication date: 01/02/2008

Source Publication Date: February 2008

Report Number: 1071

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne