Dagstuhl Accord

Participants of the 2007 Dagstuhl Conference on Frontiers of E-Voting agree that:

Taking advantage of technology to improve large-scale elections has recently captured the interest of researchers coming from a number of disciplines. The basic requirements pose an apparently irreconcilable challenge: while voter confidence hinges on transparently ensuring integrity of the outcome, ballot secrecy must also be ensured. Current systems can only address these essential requirements by relying on trust in those conducting the election or by trust in the machines and software they use. Some promising new systems dramatically reduce the need for such trust.

What are called “end-to-end” voting systems, for example, allow each voter to ensure that his or her vote cast in the booth is recorded correctly. They then allow anyone to verify that all such recorded votes are included in the final tally correctly. Surprisingly, typically through use of encryption, these systems can also provide privacy of votes. They do this without introducing any danger of “improper influence” of voters, as in vote buying and coercion. Moreover, such systems offer all these properties without relying on trust in particular persons, manual processes, devices, or software.

Care must still be taken to ensure proper implementation and education of voters in order to avoid misuse or incorrect perceptions. Some are also concerned that the level of understandability and observability of hand-counting of paper ballots in polling places will not be matched by electronic systems. The challenge for government and civil society should be to find ways to foster development and testing of new election paradigms in general and to allow them to be assessed and expeditiously rise to meet their potential to improve elections.

The challenges for the technical research community now forming around election technology includes further exploration and refinement of these new types of systems. Particularly promising and important areas include analysis, formal modeling, and rigorous proofs regarding systems and potential threats. Initial deployments of these systems are starting to provide valuable real-world experience, but effective ways to communicate and expose their workings may also be important. The goal is systems that increase transparency regarding the correctness of the election results and yet maintain secrecy of individual votes. Improved voter confidence may follow.

Voting over electronic networks has various attractions, is starting to be deployed, and is regarded by some as inevitable. No solution, however, has yet been proposed that provides safeguards adequate against various known threats. Problems include attacks against the security of the computers used as well as attacks that impede communication over the network. Improper influence of remote voters is also a significant problem, although it is tolerated with vote by mail in numerous jurisdictions. Securing network voting is clearly an important research challenge. We cannot, however, prudently recommend any but unavoidable use of online voting systems in elections of significant consequence until effective means are developed to address these vulnerabilities.

Name Country
David ChaumUSA
Miroslaw KutylowskiPoland
Ronald RivestUSA
Peter RyanUnited Kingdom
Roberto AraujoBrazil
Josh BenalohUSA
Olivier De MarneffeBelgium
Benjamin HospUSA
Rui JoaquimPortugal
Aggelos KiayiasUSA
David LundinUnited Kingdom
Tal MoranIsrael
Olivier PereiraBelgium
Stefan PopoveniucUSA
Jean-Jacques QuisquaterBelgium
Mark RyanUnited Kingdom
Steve SchneiderUnited Kingdom
Bruno SimeoneItaly
Vanessa TeagueAustralia
Poorvi VoraUSA
Filip ZagorskiPoland

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