From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]







Uncle Sam Wants You: To Build a Better Voting Machine

By Kim Zetter  /  July 16, 2007

Four teams of researchers from universities in the U.S., Canada,
Poland and the United Kingdom begin competing today in Portland,
Oregon, to win a prize for the best open-source voting system. The
three-day University Voting System Competition, which ends July 18th,
is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The competition,
which is open to the public (see the schedule and Portland location
here) will have each team performing a mock election on its system
before a judging panel that includes MIT professor Ron Rivest (the “R”
in RSA Security), Microsoft security researcher Josh Benaloh and John
Kelsey from NIST. You can see papers describing all the voting systems

The winning team will receive $10,000 from Election Systems & Software
— the voting machine company that, ironically, is embroiled in an
ongoing controversy over a contested congressional race in Florida in
which more than 18,000 ballots cast on touch-screen machines last
November showed no vote recorded in the 13 Congressional District race
(the race is being investigated by the Government Accountability

From a press release describing the voting systems in the competition:

Three of the competition systems are based on revolutionary “end-
to-end (e2e) secure” technology, which enables each voter to verify
that her vote was correctly recorded and tabulated. This new
technology promises to surpass the lower level of results assurance
afforded by popular “paper record” technologies such as precinct-
count optical scan and VVPAT advocated by Senator Holt and others.

At the VoComp conference, speakers will introduce additional
exciting new technologies. Rivest will unveil his new ThreeBallot
voting system, which achieves e2e security without mathematical
cryptography. David Chaum will describe his Scantegrity proposal for
enabling voters to verify their votes using standard optical scan
technology. Warren Smith will analyze the benefits of Range Voting (a
more expressive form of approval voting) over the currently used
plurality count method for conducting elections.


Contact Information
Dr. Alan T. Sherman
Dept. of CSEE
UMBC, 1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250

dralansherman [at] starpower [dot] net
(410) 455-2666


Richard Carback

Richard Carback is a graduate student in Computer Science working in
Information Assurance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
He completed his BS in Computer Science at UMBC in May of 2005. While
an undergraduate he managed the computer systems for the student
newspaper and spent school breaks working for L-3 Communications
Corporation’s Government Services Incorporated, formerly known as EER
Systems, Integrated Base Defense Security Systems Contractor Logistics
Support group. Rick is also developing Cyber Defense Exercises and
maintaining the Cyber Defense Lab at UMBC.

Richard maintains the website for punchscan, and has been actively
working on the web-based components of the punchscan system. He has
also been working on images that allow the punchscan software to boot
and run off of a USB stick or CD.

David Chaum

David Chaum, widely recognized as the inventor of electronic cash and
other cryptographic techniques aimed at providing privacy, founded
IACR, the major organization in the field of cryptographic research.
While a graduate student at UC Berkeley in 1981, he published the
first solution to providing secure secret-ballot elections

He had created the SureVote system to provide secure elections in
developing countries just before November 2000, and then adapted it
for US elections. Later he published the Votegrity system for visual
voting before developing PunchScan. He is a member of the ACCURATE and
On the Identity Trail projects. He has also been active in and co-
founded the WOTE series of workshops on technology for secure
elections, founded VSPR to help develop performance measures for
voting systems, and created VoComp as a way for universities to
compete on their realizations of voting systems.

Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark is a graduate student in Electrical Engineering at
University of Ottawa’s School of Information Technology and
Engineering (SITE). He obtained his BESc in Computer Engineering at
University of Western Ontario. During his undergraduate term, he co-
developed a cryptographic stream cipher which was awarded Best Project
within the department. Jeremy’s research interests lie in online
anonymity, cryptography, electronic voting, emergent complex
behaviour, and cellular automata.

Jeremy is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Carlisle
Adams and is investigating online anonymity in real-world situations.
He is also a member of the interdisciplinary research group On the
Identity Trail which studies online anonymity from legal, technical,
and philosophical perspectives. Outside of his technical interests,
Jeremy has presented at interdisciplinary conferences on subjects such
as digital philosophy. He is also the co-host of a Canadian political

Jeremy has worked with Aleks on interpreting the software specs
pertaining to auditing punchscan elections, and are currently
investigating the cryptographic makeup of the system. Additionally
Jeremy has implemented a securely random means of selecting ballots
for the pre-election audit using stock indices.

Aleks Essex

Aleks Essex is a graduate student in Electrical Engineering at
University of Ottawa’s School of Information Technology and
Engineering (SITE). He obtained his BESc in Computer Engineering at
University of Western Ontario. As his undergraduate thesis he, along
Jeremy Clark, developed a stream cipher which recieved two top faculty
awards. Aleks’s research interests include cryptography, chaos,
emergent complexity and cellular automata.

Working under the supervision of Dr. Carlisle Adams, who co-authored
the CAST family of block ciphers, Aleks is researching the
implications of algebraic cryptanalysis on block cipher design. He is
also a student member of the On the Identity Trail project. Outside of
technical interests, Aleks and Jeremy host a podcast on the topic of
Canadian politics.

Aleks developed pre and post election audit software designed from
Stefan’s software spec to allow voters a simple “Windows Wizard” style
interface in auditing election results. He and Jeremy are currently
investigating the cryptographic makeup of the system.