2017 update to the SPI voting algorithm for Board elections [and 1 more messages]

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Tue Feb 28 11:21:48 UTC 2017

Just wanted to share some more information on the Helios voting software:

On Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 8:09 PM, Ian Jackson
<ijackson at chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
> Dimitri John Ledkov writes ("2017 update to the SPI voting algorithm for Board elections"):
> Joshua D. Drake writes ("Re: 2017 update to the SPI voting algorithm for Board elections"):
>> This is great news. Ian, question... is there anything wrong with using
>> what OpenSource.org uses? (https://heliosvoting.org/)
> That's a website.  There is no documentation explaining what their
> system is.  The hamburger in the top right didn't do anything for me
> (perhaps because I have JavaScript disabled).
> I did a bit of web searching and this seems to be some kind of novel
> ballot casting protocol.  I don't even see any discussion of what
> voting system[1] they use or support.

You would have wanted to get to this page: https://heliosvoting.org/docs

Helios implements an e-voting system based on homomorphic encryption.
Algorithms for secure e-voting are a field of their own in
cryptography, and on a high level can be divided into 2 main
categories: mix-net based and homomorphic encryption.

What makes Helios interesting is that it is one of very few real world
software implementations of such algorithms. As I'm sure all of you
know, most voting software, whether used by governments or
organizations like SPI, do not actually implement any
cryptographically secure e-voting algorithm, rather just get by with
using some commonly used crypto for the communication channel, such as
HTTPS or PGP, or not even that.

While a homomorphic e-voting algorithm is arguably better in many
ways, a fundamental property of such algorithms tends to be that they
can only be used to vote for N-out-of-M options. On my blog I once
explored an approach to encode a preferential voting system, such as
STV, into an N-out-of-M ballot. I believe that is possible for small
elections such as the SPIs. But definitively it is not supported by
Helios out of the box, and attempting to do it could turn out to be

As some readers are likely to be interested in this topic, here are
some links for further reading. My blog post contains links to actual
academic articles as well.

In particular, this talk by the creator of Helios could be interesting:

As this is going in an off-topic direction, I suppose you can comment
on my blog post if you have further questions.

> Let's fix our voting system[1] first and then think about improving
> our ballot casting protocol.

If the current proposal is to simply change the software that counts
the votes, and continue using the current system for actually casting
the vote, then I agree 100%.


henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-5697354        skype: henrik.ingo            irc: hingo

My LinkedIn profile: http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/henrik-ingo/3/232/8a7

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