Voting system a winner

An electronic voting system designed by students from Universities of Surrey and Newcastle has won an international competition.

The Prêt à Voter system won the best system design category in the international Student Electronic Voting System Competition (VoComp) in July and came second in the overall competition.

The team presented an implementation of the Prêt à Voter system, developed by the Surrey Electronic Voting Group in collaboration with NewcastleUniversity, at the competition in Portland, Oregon. The system uses encryption to secure the votes, and posts them on a bulletin board for voters to verify.

David Lundin from the University of Surrey Computing Department said: ‘When you drop your ballot form in the box in today’s elections you have to trust that it is correctly counted and does not go missing. We want to make it possible for you, and all other voters, to check that your votes were actually counted. This is called end-to-end verifiability and my bet is that this is the way we will safeguard democracy in the future.’

The electronic voting research conducted at Surrey aims to create systems that not only are able to count millions of votes quickly but also makes elections truly verifiable.

‘While electronic voting using touchscreens has been around for a long time, robust and verifiable systems built using security technology have only begun to emerge recently,’ said Prof Steve Schneider at the University of Surrey. ‘Our implementation is one of the first that can run a real election, and the only one that can handle single transferable voting as well as first past the post elections.’