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Voters, Computers, and Trust:
Designing Verifiable Elections
               Stuart M. Shieber
                  Ben Adida
                Greg Morrisett
 Center for Research on Computation and Society
               October 18, 2008

                           School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
                                                   Harvard University
Secure Voting
• Voting is particularly challenging:
  requires secrecy and public auditability.
• Computer science enables
  qualitatively novel solutions.
• Cryptography can reconcile
  seemingly contradictory requirements.
quot;That's for me and a
 button to know.quot;
     Joe, the plumber.
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
7
7
“When I finally saw
      the results of our tests,
I thought I was going to throw up.”
       Sec. of State, Ohio, last week.
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




              http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/9
Fashionable Voting




                     10
Voting is a
fundamentally
difficult problem.


                    11
14

12
14

                   12




1 person, 1 vote
Enforced Privacy
to ensure each voter
   votes in his/her
  own interest

                       13
http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/   14
1892 - Australian Ballot




     http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/pictures/   15
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain




Alice the Voter
                                16
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain




Alice the Voter
                                16
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain




Alice the Voter
                                16
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain




Alice the Voter
                                16
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain                        Obama
                                Obama
                                 Obama


                                McCain
                                McCain
                                 McCain



Alice the Voter
                                          16
The Ballot Handoff

  McCain                           Obama
                                   Obama
                                    Obama


                                   McCain
                                   McCain
                                    McCain



Alice the Voter        Black Box
                                             16
Chain of Custody




                   19
Chain of Custody
                        1
            /*
             * source
             * code
             */

            if (...

                            Vendor




                                     19
Chain of Custody
                                1
                    /*
                     * source
                     * code
       Voting        */
                2
      Machine
                    if (...

                                    Vendor




                                             19
Chain of Custody
                                         1
                             /*
                              * source
                              * code
 Polling        Voting        */
           3             2
Location       Machine
                             if (...

                                             Vendor




                                                      19
Chain of Custody
                                             1
                                 /*
                                  * source
                                  * code
     Polling        Voting        */
               3             2
    Location       Machine
                                 if (...

                                                 Vendor
        4

Alice




                                                          19
Chain of Custody
                                             1
                                 /*
                                  * source
                                  * code
     Polling        Voting        */
               3             2
    Location       Machine
                                 if (...

                                                 Vendor
        4

Alice




                                                          19
Chain of Custody
                                                               1
                                                   /*
                                                    * source
                                                    * code
     Polling                  Voting                */
                   3                           2
    Location                 Machine
                                                   if (...

                                                                   Vendor
        4

Alice

               5


                       Ballot Box Collection

                                                                            19
Chain of Custody
                                                               1
                                                   /*
                                                    * source
                                                    * code
     Polling                  Voting                */
                   3                           2
    Location                 Machine
                                                   if (...

                                                                   Vendor
        4

Alice
                                                                   Results
               5                                         6           .....


                       Ballot Box Collection

                                                                             19
Chain of Custody
                                                               1
                                                   /*
                                                    * source
                                                    * code
     Polling                  Voting                */
                   3                           2
    Location                 Machine
                                                   if (...

                                                                   Vendor
        4

Alice
                                                                   Results
               5                                         6           .....


                       Ballot Box Collection
                            Black Box
                                                                             19
Computers have only
obscured the process.




                        20
Computers have only
obscured the process.


   What about
computer science?
                        20
Cryptography
solving problems that initially
  appear to have conflicting
        requirements.



                                  21
Public-Key Encryption




Customer




                                   22
Public-Key Encryption



               public key

Customer




                                   22
Public-Key Encryption



               public key
              enc(cc number)
Customer




                                   22
Public Ballots
   Bulletin Board


               Bob:
              McCain

         Carol:
         Obama




                       23
Public Ballots
           Bulletin Board


                       Bob:
                      McCain

                 Carol:
                 Obama




Alice
                               23
Public Ballots
            Bulletin Board

         Alice:         Bob:
         Obama         McCain

                  Carol:
                  Obama




Alice
                                23
Public Ballots
            Bulletin Board

         Alice:         Bob:
         Obama         McCain

                  Carol:
                  Obama
                                   Tally

                                Obama....2
                                McCain....1
Alice
                                              23
Encrypted Public Ballots
            Bulletin Board

        Alice:          Bob:
         Rice          Clinton

                  Carol:
                   Rice
                                    Tally

                                 Obama....2
                                 McCain....1
Alice
                                               24
Encrypted Public Ballots
                         Bulletin Board

                    Alice:           Bob:
                     Rice           Clinton

                               Carol:
Ali                             Rice
   ce
        ver                                      Tally
            ifies
                   he
                     rv                       Obama....2
                       ote
                                              McCain....1
Alice
                                                            24
Encrypted Public Ballots
                         Bulletin Board

                    Alice:              Bob:
                     Rice              Clinton

                               Carol:
                                                                 lly
Ali                                                           ta
                                Rice
   ce                                                      e
                                                         thTally
        ver                                           es
                                                   rifi
            ifies
                                               e ve
                   he                        n
                                          ryo
                     rv                ve                Obama....2
                                   E
                       ote
                                                         McCain....1
Alice
                                                                       24
How can we verify
  operations on
 encrypted data?

Mathematical Proofs.
                       25
Zero-Knowledge Proof
                 President:
                   President:
                Mickey Mouse
                    President:
                 Mickey Mouse
                      President:
                   Mickey Mouse
                       President:
                    Mickey Mouse
                         President:
                      Mickey Mouse
                          Vote For:
                       Mickey Mouse
                          Obama
Vote For:
 Obama




                                      26
Zero-Knowledge Proof
                 President:
                   President:
                Mickey Mouse
                    President:
                 Mickey Mouse
                      President:
                   Mickey Mouse
                       President:
                    Mickey Mouse
                         President:
                      Mickey Mouse
                          Vote For:
                       Mickey Mouse
                          Obama
Vote For:
 Obama




                                      26
Zero-Knowledge Proof
                                       President:
                                         President:
                                      Mickey Mouse
                                          President:
                                       Mickey Mouse
                                            President:
                                         Mickey Mouse
                                             President:
                                          Mickey Mouse
                                               President:
                                            Mickey Mouse
                                                Vote For:
                                             Mickey Mouse
                                                Obama
Vote For:
 Obama




                This last envelope
            likely contains “Obama”
                                                            26
Zero-Knowledge Proof
    President:            President:
      President:            President:
   Mickey Mouse          Mickey Mouse
       President:            President:
    Mickey Mouse          Mickey Mouse
         President:            President:
      Mickey Mouse          Mickey Mouse
          President:            President:
       Mickey Mouse          Mickey Mouse
            President:            President:
         Mickey Mouse          Mickey Mouse
             Vote For:             Vote For:
                                Mickey Mouse
          Mickey Mouse
                                   McCain
                                    Paul
             Obama




    Open envelopes don’t prove
      anything after the fact.
                                               27

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Secure Voting