Better understanding the system

ICT Discovery Visit

Transparency is becoming an increasingly important issue for the public and the electoral authorities. Recent federal and cantonal laws on transparency of the activities of the administrations, as well as a certain degree of suspition towards internet voting,  in some small but influential circles (IT professionals) have put transparency on the table. So, how transparent will the use of technology in electoral practice going to be in 2013? A look into the crystal ball shows some interesting trends.

Legislation on e-voting of canton Geneva foresees that the internet voting system should be submitted to a minimum number of audits (one each three years). It also foresees that audit reports should be published. Geneva is actually a pioneer in this field. Since the entry into force of this transparency rule in 2009, a first audit report is due to be published soon thus setting the bar higher for other internet voting cantons as well.

Let’s continue to stay in Geneva for yet another transparency breakthrough event, this time in relation to the source code of the internet voting application. Last September the authorities announced that in conformance with the cantonal law, they had granted access to the source code of the internet voting application to a Geneva citizen – who happens to be one of the leaders of the Pirate Party which, by the way, is rather critic of the current internet voting solutions. At the same time the Chancellery announced it had launched a call for bids to realize an audit of the same source code. As provided by the law, the audit report will be made public.

The other expected breakthrough relates to verifiability. According to the strategic document (Roadmap) and several interventions of the federal Chancellery on internet voting, the third report will indicate ways and means of increasing transparency, namely by introducing some kind of verifiability. This has been discussed at the technical group level. Results will be included in the third report on e-voting, due to be published next summer.

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