Microsoft recently revealed ElectionGuard, an election security program design to reinforce the protection of United States elections. Engadget reported that innovation aims to make voting easier and reliable.
The tech company pieced together a sample device made of various “off-the-shelf parts,” including a Surface tablet and an Xbox controller, all Microsoft products. Engadget remarked that the use of ordinary parts makes the system unique, but ElectionGuard is the unifying factor that makes the tech effective.
In the test run, voters are able to use the tablet or the controller to cast their votes. After receiving the votes, the security program encrypts the data using a homomorphic encryption technique. During this process, the system counts the vote while the data remains protected.
Aside from encryption during the voting process, ElectionGuard also provides gives out a tracking code. This allows voters to confirm whether or not their vote was counted. The code also shows users whether their votes were changed or not.
The need for stronger election-related protection
Engadget remarked that the mounting need for election security makes the launch of the platform more urgent. According to Microsoft, its AccountGuard program registered more than 750 politics-related attacks. This includes campaigns from Iran, North Korea and Russia since 2018.
With the pressing concerns about other countries interfering in election and politics, more and more people are being targeted or attacked. Microsoft noted that such attacks have affected at least 10,000 individuals.
Individuals concerned about the system eliminating paper trails have no reason to worry as it leaves documentary evidence. According to Engadget, the tech will provide a paper ballot, marked by the voter and submitted to a ballot box. As per the media outlet, this “[serves] as an extra level of verification.”
However, Engadget reminds voters that the same setup will not be present at the voting station. Because ElectionGuard is open source, it can be used with other polling systems. The program can be installed and operated in machines currently used for US elections.
In fact, Microsoft is partnering up with other voting systems providers such as Clear Ballot and Smartmatic. Clear Ballot and Smartmatic are the two top manufacturers of voting machines in the US.
Meanwhile, the tech firm noted that the security program may take time before usage expands. However, the company plans to launch a pilot implementation in the 2020 national elections.