Electronic Voting

published 2015-11-06

French politician Axelle Lemaire tweeted today that, like half of French voters, she was in favor of electronic voting. This tweet has resulted in a strong reaction among most of my techno-saavy friends which could be summed up as "OMG no, e-voting cannot be secure, please educate yourself".

On this topic, my views differ with the majority opinion among people in technology, even though I support the same organizations fighting abuses in e-voting such as Electronic Frontier Foundation.

If you speak French, please read these three articles by LORIA reasearcher Véronique Cortier. They may change your mind on e-voting somehow. In particular, she argues that, although e-voting cannot be as secure as physical voting, it could very well be better than absentee voting.

Véronique is one of the researchers working on Belenios, which is Open Source and scientifically proven e-voting software. Belenios provides privacy, verifiability and full correctness, properties which many erroneously think cannot be satisfied simultaneously.

I am not denying that there are issues that will be hard or impossible to solve. The two main ones, for me, are the security of client terminals and the capacity for random citizen to trust the process. Indeed, understanding and verifying something like Belenios requires relative proficiency in math and computer science. I am willing to let the scientific community do that work, but some consider this view elitist.

However, I would like to see more research and experiments with e-voting. I think that making the organization of votes easier and cheaper will allow our political systems to evolve towards something where citizen have more direct influence on the democratic process.

I have to disclose that I know one of the authors of Belenios (Stéphane Glondu) personally, which is how I came to learn about systems like Helios and Belenios in the first place.