Microsoft has been developing voting machine software since last year, and tomorrow it is getting its first real-world test.
The Electionguard platform, which runs an open-source software application on a Surface tablet, will be used to elect representatives for the Wisconsin Supreme Court at Fulton, Wisconsin.
The trial will only be used for a few hundred votes, but if successful may see rapid roll-out to other voting machines.
Voting machine vendors Smartmatic and Clear Ballot have already announced partnerships with Microsoft and Dominion Voting Systems said it was also exploring using the SDK.
The platform is designed to be verifiable using homomorphic encryption and in addition, also produces a paper ballot that can be counted separately.
It has the following features:
- First, a voter will select candidates on a touchscreen and verify their choices
- Second, the voter will print and review for accuracy a paper ballot and simultaneously receive a separate tracking code.
- Third, the voter will deposit their paper ballot into a ballot box for counting.
- They can use the tracking code on an election website to verify that their vote has been counted and that the vote has not been altered. The tracking code does not reveal the vote, so it won’t allow third-parties to see who voted for who.
- Homomorphic encryption allows the counting of votes while keeping the votes encrypted.
- The ElectionGuard SDK also supports third-party “verifier” apps to independently check if encrypted votes have been counted properly and not altered.
- Verifier apps were created for voting officials, the media, or any third party interested in the voting process.
- ElectionGuard also supports voting through accessibility hardware, such as Microsoft Surface or the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
With the recent voting app fiasco at the Iowa Caucus, all eyes will be on Microsoft, who will hopefully have better success.
Read more at Microsoft here.