Which e-voting problems do we need to solve?
Securing elections is hard: there are challenging technical problems, and even more challenging social and political ones. Real mathematical evidence may not be accepted by everyone, while complete nonsense might seem convincing to many. So what can cryptographers do for democracy?
We have good designs for privacy-preserving, receipt-free and verifiable election systems. It's exciting to see them getting deployed in practice in polling-place settings where we have a reasonable chance of preserving the secret ballot and guiding voters through verification.
But there is still plenty of work to be done. How do these solutions connect with statistical notions of confidence and testing? How do we help the public distinguish between genuine and fake notions of cryptographic verification? Is threshold-trust the best we can do for the secret ballot? How much work can we ask voters to do? Can we meaningfully connect cryptographic evidence with the easy verification of paper ballots? And is there anything at all we can do for remote voting?
Vanessa Teague is the CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity and Associate Prof (Adj.) in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University. Her research focuses primarily on cryptographic methods for achieving security and privacy, particularly for issues of public interest such as election integrity and the protection of government data. She was part of the team (with Chris Culnane and Ben Rubinstein) who discovered the easy re-identification of doctors and patients in the Medicare/PBS open dataset released by the Australian Department of Health. She has co-designed numerous protocols for improved election integrity in e-voting systems, and co-discovered serious weaknesses in the cryptography of deployed e-voting systems in New South Wales, Western Australia and Switzerland. She lives and works on Wurundjeri land in Southeastern Australia (near Melbourne).
A World of SNARKS
Jens Groth is Director of Research at DFINITY. He received his PhD from Aarhus University, won the 2007 UCLA Chancellor’s Award for postdoctoral research, and was full professor at University College London. His research interests include electronic voting, mix-nets, digital signatures, public-key encryption, zero-knowledge proofs and blockchain security. He received the Asiacrypt 2021 Test-of-Time Award for asymptotically optimal NIZK proofs and group signatures without random oracles and has co-invented pairing-based SNARKs, logarithmic size proof systems underpinning Bulletproofs, and zero-knowledge proofs with constant overhead for the prover.