A short report by Richard Hill*
The 2015 VoteID conference took place from 2-4 September 2015 in Bern, Switzerland. The conference featured presentations of peer-reviewed papers covering a variety of inter-disciplinary topics related to e-voting, such as a legal challenge to a specific system; security analyses of several specific systems; analysis of the characteristics of Internet voters in several actual votes; and research papers on advanced verification and related techniques. In addition to these papers, invited speakers presented papers on Internet voting in Switzerland; security analysis of the Estonian system; the actual use of Internet voting in Switzerland; and the use of verifiable voting in Victoria, Australia. A half-day session was also devoted to hands-on demonstration of several e-voting systems.
The conference was well attended, with participants from Australia and the USA, in addition to Europe. Ample time was allowed for discussions after each paper and during coffee and lunch breaks. There was also a reception (with a tour of the Swiss parliament) and a conference dinner, again providing ample time for discussions amongst the participants.
The conference proceedings are published by Springer. Those proceedings (and the numerous papers referenced therein) present an accurate snapshot of where we stand today with e-voting, what the challenges are, and how to address them, in particular through further research. That research must not be limited to technological issues (such as cryptography), but must also encompass legal issues and social issues. E-voting is inherently an inter-disciplinary matter, and this was well recognized at the conference and well brought out during the valuable discussions that took place there.
While some are of the view that Internet voting is not yet ready for deployment in the real world, the fact is that it is being deployed, and politicians, electoral authorities, legal experts, courts, and computer specialists should work together to ensure that deployments consider carefully the risks and threats of e-voting and develop solutions that adequately address those risks and threats in light of the specific context for which e-voting will be used. There is no “one size fits all”, and the valuable contributions presented at VoteID 2015 can be used to help to tailor a suitable solution, or to decide that e-voting should not be used.
*A short CV of Dr. Richard Hill can be found here