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Content archived on 2024-05-24

Electronic Polling System for Remote Voting Operations


The E-POLL project introduces innovative systems to support the voting process based on leading edge technologies or introducing new technologies. The concept of electronic vote is full of promises: low cost, high reliability and security, access for all voters independently from where they are on the voting day, easy access for impaired persons, etc. The goal of E-POLL is to bridge the gap between the availability of leading edge technologies and the existing issues related to their application to the voting process (e.g. legislation, confidentiality, security and reliability, roles in the election process, costs). One of the main obstacles to the introduction of electronic vote is the lack of clear guidelines about how to implement an electronic voting system; lack of standards has led to lack of interoperability between the developed solutions and to reduced confidence on the part of voters and legislators.
The E-POLL project will address these difficulties by defining an abstract framework (the European Virtual Ballot Network) defining the components of the electronic vote process (voting lists, virtual polling stations, vote collection systems, voters identification devices, etc.) and the information flow between actors involved. This framework will address the vote preparation, the voter identification/anonymity, the voter authorisation, and the vote transmission/security/count.

The E-POLL project objective is to demonstrate that the European Virtual Ballot Network (EVBN), to which is connected every European administration involved in the voting process, could exist in the future for every election type. The project will analyse only the European election (the same rules apply all over Europe and the actors involved can be clearly identified).

The EVBN is a functional system allowing communication between administrations at different level. The information flow includes: normative harmonisation support, consultation/election information publishing, procedures support, and training sessions, vote operations, virtual booth management. From the technical point of view the Voting Information Server (VIS) provides high-end services and configuring the thin-client application. The Network Infrastructure (NETW) designed around E-POLL is the infrastructure which supports all the system functionalities providing all the security attributes needed. The E-POLL network infrastructure provides also resources both from the storage and services provision.
The voter recognition system is based on a very innovative smart card with a biometric fingerprint reader embedded, which will perform the voter recognition with absolute anonymity. The recognition system is completely separated from the Voting System (VS). The latter is based on a specific kiosk developed to address also elderly and disable people needs in terms of usability. It works as the thin client of the E-POLL system; the kiosk itself is the base of the virtual booth operation and the project will investigate the adoption of mobile broadband communication to connect them, in order to insure the highest level of security without poor performances.
Vote Collection System (VCS) is the secure storage of encrypted ballots, which guarantees the arrival of all cast ballots and their consistency. The system hosts all virtual booths creating a secure environment for vote anonymity.

The E-POLL research will build and field test a network based electronic vote system. The project will begin with an analysis of requirements, system design and selection of technologies. The project will be defined such as to be suitable for large scale deployment. Security aspects will also be highlighted, the project intends to publish a complete vote protocol draft, describing the information flows and the security solutions emphasising the cryptography used to protect the vote. The protocol draft will be submitted to academic institutions for peer reviews. When the requirements have been finished three different workgroups will respectively develop a network suitable for electronic votes, a set of databases and servers to support electronic voting an a secure voting booth including a biometrics capable smart-card. Field tests of the complete systems will be performed in France and Italy; plans are to run a first test with a non-political consultation and a more complete one on a political election or consultation in each case. A third test will be run in Poland aimed at verifying the system's portability to other legislation. As we expect that election legislation will have to be changed to accommodate electronic vote we plan to promote a strong awareness, using user groups and other dissemination techniques of politicians, and legislators in the project's goals. Recommendations about needed legislative changes will be produced. Common citizens and voters will also be involved in user groups both to determine the ergonomics of the voting hardware, particularly concerning impaired ad elderly people, and to find ways to increase trust in the electronic vote process amongst the general public.

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