E-ballot software wins vote of confidence

A second company chooses technology from VoteHere to let voters verify that choices were properly registered.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
covers viruses, worms and other security threats.
Robert Lemos
2 min read
Ballot-machine maker Advanced Voting Solutions will use VoteHere's software to offer voters a way to check that their ballot was cast correctly, VoteHere said Monday.

The companies will team to integrate the technology into AVS's WINvote touch-screen voting terminal and will test the device during the November election. Rather than allow for a centralized re-count, the system gives voters the ability to check their vote online by matching a coded number on a receipt with the same number in a database.

"Voters can get receipts to ensure their votes were properly counted, and anyone can audit the election results," Jim Adler, founder of VoteHere, said in a statement.

VoteHere's technology is its answer to the demand of some security-conscious citizens for a secondary paper trail to help ensure the integrity of an election.

With older voting systems, such as the punch-card setups that became notorious after the 2000 presidential election, poll workers typically audit a small number of voting machines and can re-count the ballots by hand to check the integrity of the vote. With the latest touch-screen voting systems, also known as Direct Recording Electronic, or DRE, machines, a manual re-count is not possible, because there are no ballots.

Although voting machine manufacturers have maintained that their e-voting systems are secure, critics have called for a transparent method of checking the integrity of the vote. The most well-known method, which prints the voter's choices on a piece of paper behind a clear plastic partition, has been dubbed a voter verified paper audit trail, or VVPAT.

VoteHere's method instead uses encryption to scramble the voter's choices to unrecognizable codes. Voters can check the codes with the selected candidates on the voting terminal screen and also take a receipt with them that lists their scrambled choices. Once home, voters can check the ballot online, matching up the coded names. VoteHere argues that if one in a thousand people checks his or her votes online, the election integrity can be assured with a very small margin of error.

Advanced Voting Solutions is the second public-election company to sign with VoteHere. Sequoia Voting Systems agreed to use the Bellevue, Wash., company's technology last year. VoteHere has also partnered with companies focused on creating systems for shareholder voting and other private sector uses.