Definition Of Voting System Information Technology Essay


Using an electronic voting system has become more and more popular worldwide and is replacing traditional paper voting methods. However, with wider adoption it has been increasingly criticized for not being secure enough and has had some controversy over the fact that the voters need to put their trust in a system they have no idea how works and is often closed black box device. However, although users demand a transparent and secure voting system, they also demand fast and reliable results, and that is something that only an electronic voting system can provide. In the last decade many organizations and governments have started electronic voting. Some companies have also specialized in electronic voting systems, and some of them have had a lot of criticism19

2 Definition of voting system

a voting system is not just the equipment necessary to cast a vote. the voting system standards (VSS) has two definitions, addressing the physical and functional components of a voting system. the physical aspect defines a voting system as comprising all the hardware and software, procedures, manuals, and specifications .

“Voting system” means, a method of casting and processing votes that functions wholly or partly by use of electromechanical, or electronic apparatus or by use of paper ballots and includes, but is not limited to, the procedures for casting and processing votes and

the programs, operating manuals, tabulating cards, printouts and other software necessary for the system’s operation.

A voting system consists of a configuration of specific hardware and software components, procedures and expendable supplies; configured into a system which allows votes to be cast and tabulated. No single component of a voting system, such as a precinct tabulation device, meets the definition of a voting system. Sufficient components must be assembled to create a configuration, which will allow the system as a whole to meet all the requirements described for a voting system in this publication.

Properties of voting systems

Researchers in the electronic voting field have already reached a consensus pack of four core properties

that an electronic voting system should have (Cranor and Cytron 1997):

Accuracy: (1) it is not possible for a vote to be altered, (2) it is not possible for a validated vote to be

eliminated from the final tally, and (3) it is not possible for an invalid vote to be counted in the final tally.

Democracy: (1) it permits only eligible voters to vote and, (2) it ensures that eligible voters vote only once.

Privacy: (1) neither authorities nor anyone else can link any ballot to the voter who cast it and (2) no voter can prove that he voted in a particular way.

Verifiability: anyone can independently verify that all votes have been counted correctly.

Accuracy, democracy and verifiability are, in most cases of today’s electoral systems, assured by the presence of representatives of opposite parties. The privacy property is currently assured by the existence of private voting booths, allowing voters to cast their votes in secrecy.


Voting system life cycle

Many discussions of voting system security vulnerability fail to consider the entire voting system. In addition to the hardware and software that make up the voting equipment, the system includes election workers, voters, and is deployed in a variety of physical environments. Election workers are often volunteers whose skill with technology can vary widely. Similarly, voting technology that assumes a level of technological literacy on the part of the individual voter will potentially be susceptible to error. A security assessment of election equipment that only considers hardware and software without examining its use in real contexts may conclude that the equipment is satisfactory. Considering the larger system including election workers and voters will require analysis of procedures with a focus on fair voting criteria – anonymity, confidentiality, integrity, and audit ability.

Voting Places

Voting at polling places [8] : The department can provide the reliable, no virus, and easy-handled voting machine in the polling places. The voters can be authenticated by the traditional protocol and the technological authentication of voters might not be necessary. It provides the highest security compared to other electronic voting place.

Voting at home with voter’s computer [8]: Voters can cast their votes by using their own computers at home. It is hard to prevent the third party’s advertisement appearing on the screen while voting. It is much more difficult to secure the voter’s computer from the attacks of hackers and virus.

Voting at anyplace with mobile devices [8]: The voters can use their devices to get access to internet in any place and cast a vote through the electronic voting system. Not only can the laptop be used to vote, the PDA, cell phone, and any other mobile devices might also be used to vote in the future. But there are many harsh problems need to overcome. The security is the most serious problem. It is vital to make sure that the computer and network in which the voters get access is not monitored, intercepted, or tampered by any attackers.

Voting in Egypt

Voting in Egypt is like any other country; most of countries still using the conventional voting technique in government election, but now Egyptian government think to electronic voting system rather that conventional voting to avoid the problems they faced on it.

There is a lot of problem in conventional voting in Egypt:

1- There is no good relationship between the government and popular, popular can’t trust the government and depend on it, voter here is like a blind person that must rely on the other person to vote for him.

2- Sometimes, government coerced and carries on the voters to vote for a particular candidate, and eliminate them from voting freely.

3- Some candidates trying to win by buy the votes from the voters.

4- Government can cheat by substitute the original ballot by derivative ones.

So there must be another way to solve these problems or reduce it as possible, and give the voters the confidence to believe of the system, form this point we think to use a new technology to improve the election by building a new system that is convenience for environment of our country Egypt.

A novel in e voting in Egypt

How voting works

In the United States, voting is a local issue. The Federal government certainly

has a lot of say about voting through the Federal Election Commission, but

in the end, its state and local officials who administer elections. In most

states, the secretary of state’s office runs an elections office that sets rules and

administers statewide elections.

The actual elections themselves are usually the purview of the county clerk.

Moreover, counties and municipalities bear the majority of the cost of

managing elections. In 2000, the total county election expenditures were

estimated at over $1 billion, or about $10 per voter.

Voting is more complicated than simply tallying votes. In fact, most of the

work in an election occurs long before the voter ever steps into the booth.

Voter registration requires large databases of voters, their addresses and

geographic calculation of precinct and district information. Ballot preparation

is a long process that is complicated by myriad rules and regulations. The

election itself must be administered, usually with the help of a large,

volunteer workforce that gets to practice about once per year. All of these

activities, in addition to vote tallying, are part of a voting system.

Voting systems design criteria

Authentication: Only authorized voters should be able to vote.

Uniqueness: No voter should be able to vote more than once.

Accuracy: Voting systems should record the votes correctly.

Integrity: Votes should not be able to be modified without detection.

Verifiability: Should be possible to verify that votes are correctly counted for in the final tally.

Audit ability: There should be reliable and demonstrably authentic election records.

Reliability: Systems should work robustly, even in the face of numerous failures.

Secrecy: No one should be able to determine how any individual voted.

Non- coercibility: Voters should not be able to prove how they voted.

Flexibility: Equipment should allow for a variety of ballot question formats.

Convenience: Voters should be able to cast votes with minimal equipment and skills.

Certifiability: Systems should be testable against essential criteria.

Transparency: Voters should be able to possess a general understanding of the whole process.

Cost-effectiveness: Systems should be affordable and efficient.

3 Definition of e-voting system

An electronic voting (e-voting) system is a voting system in which the election data is recorded, stored and processed primarily as digital information.

Electronic voting is a means of having a paperless voting system.

“Electronic voting is a term used to describe any of several means of determining

people’s collective intent electronically. Electronic voting includes voting by kiosk,

internet, telephone, punch card, and optical scan ballot (a.k.a. mark-sense).” 17

An electronic voting system (on-line voting, internet voting) is an election system which uses electronic ballot that would allow voters to transmit their secure and secret voted ballot to election officials over the internet [2]. With the prosperity of internet over the years, inventers start to make the use of electronic voting in order to make the voting process more convenient and raise the participation of the civic. From now on, engineers have repeatedly created new technology to improve the feasibility of electronic voting system.

electronic voting refers to use of computer or computerized voting equipment to cast ballots in an election. this term, sometimes, is used more specifically to refer to voting that take place over the internet. electronic system can be used to register voters, tally ballots, and record votes.

3.1 Type of e voting system

E-Voting is a type of voting that includes the use of a computer rather than the traditional use of ballot at polling centres or by postal mail. It encompasses various types of voting: kiosks, the Internet, telephones, punch cards, and marksense or optical scan ballots. papers/Vol2No1/4vol2no1.pdf

there is two types of e-voting: polling place voting and Internet voting.

Polling place voting. In a polling place, both the voting clients (voting machines) and the physical environment are supervised by authorized entities. Depending on the type of polling place (precinct or kiosk [6]), validation may be either physical (e.g. by election officials) or electronic (with some kind of digital identification). Casting and tallying are electronic: the voting clients may be Direct Recording Electronic.

Internet voting. The vote is cast over the Internet and the voting client is unsupervised during voting (the voting client may be at home, at work, in a library, etc). Registration may be either physical (at the elections office) or electronic (with some form of digital identification). Validation, casting and tallying are electronic.

I-voting requires a much greater level of security than e-commerce. While checking the eligibility of voters, and that no voter casts more than one vote, is no more difficult than meeting the security requirements of an e-commerce application, ensuring this and meeting other requirements such as privacy, a universally verifiable audit trail and uncoercibility, has been difficult to achieve in a practical and affordable way.


The advocate of electronic voting claims that the convenience, mobility, tally speed, less cost, and flexibility are the main advantages. Following are the descriptions of the advantages.

Convenience: With the well-designed software and system, the voters can simply use his voting equipment with the minimal time and skill to finish the voting process [2].

Mobility: Voters can cast their votes at a specific polling place, home, or any place in which they can get access to the internet. People can even use the mobile device such as cell phone or PDA to vote. There is no restriction on the location [2].

Tally Speed: [3] Once the voting time is over, the computer can immediately calculate the result of the election. It is much faster than the traditional ballot counting method operated by people.

Less Cost: [3] Compared to paper ballot voting, electronic voting saves money from reducing the personnel expense, expense for location management and administration fee, etc. In the beginning, the investment expense of building up the electronic voting system would be very high. But after the system is built up, the total expense would be reduced to be much lower than paper ballot voting.

Flexibility: Electronic voting system can be designed to support a variety of ballot question formats [2]. It can be used to collect public opinions or election.

Voter participation: With convenience and mobility of the system, it would motivate people who are not interested in voting or unable to vote originally. It would increase the participation of voters.

2.5 Disadvantage

Despite the particular advantages to electronic voting system, critics of electronic voting argue about the security issue and the unequal access chance to the internet are the main drawbacks to the system.

Inequality problem:

It is apparent that the people with low salary might not be able to afford the equipment for electronic voting. And some people who are not able to use the computer facility might lose their privilege in voting.

Vulnerable to Security: The security issue is the main drawback of the electronic voting system. So far, there are still many kinds of attacks which are hard to prevent completely. The attacks might be happened from the webpage, network, to the extent of server’s database.

Denial of Service attack: A denial of service is characterized by that an attacker prevents legitimate users from using resources. An attacker may attempt to “flood” a network and thus reduce a legitimate user’s bandwidth, prevent access to a service, or disrupt service to a specific system or a user [4]. Now it is very hard to completely avoid this kind of attack. Nevertheless, people can adopt some methods such as “Filtering Routers”, “Disabling IP Broadcast”, “Disabling Unused Services”, and Performing intrusion Detection” [4] to make the network more secure.

Virus: Virus such as Trojan horse would do great damage to the system. The server can be easily protected from the attack of virus by using some specific kinds of operating system. But the client such as personal computers might not secure enough and are easily infected with virus. These viruses might attack computer from

E-voting system concept

The e-voting concept is similar to the envelope method used during advance polls

today to allow voting outside of polling place of voter’s residence:

* the voter identifies himself/herself to polling commission,

* the voter fills the ballot and puts it in an inner envelope,

* that envelope is put into another envelope on which the voter’s data is then written,

* the envelope is transported to the voter’s polling station, the voter’s eligibility is

verified, and if the voter is eligible, the outer envelope is opened and the anonymous

inner envelope is put into the ballot box.

The e-voting follows the same scheme. E-voter creates during the voter procedures an inner envelope (which is essentially an encrypted vote) and an outer envelope (which is essentially a digital signature).

The following considerations speak in favour of the envelope method:

* simplicity and understand ability of the scheme, possibility to draw a parallel with

traditional elections;

* simplicity of system architecture – the number of components and parties is


* full use of digital signature.

2. Votes cannot be known before the official ballot reading;

3. Only registered voters will be able to vote;

4. Each voter will have one and only one vote;

5. Vote secrecy is guaranteed; it never will be possible to link a voter to his/her vote;

6. The voting website will resist any denial of service attack

7. The voter will be protected against identity theft;

8. The number of cast votes will be equal to the number of received ballots;

9. It will be possible to prove that a given citizen has voted;

10. The system will not accept votes outside the ballot opening period;

11. The system will be audible.

Character of e-voting system

discusses the following characteristics of a good electronic voting system: accuracy, democracy, privacy, verifiability, convenience, flexibility, and mobility.

Each account includes the characteristic of accuracy, but the authors define “accuracy” in different ways.

For example, Schneier defines accuracy as “direct mapping from intent to counted vote.” Standard defines accuracy as “the extent to which a given measurement agrees with an accepted standard for that measurement” and includes significant discussion of acceptable error rates in the body of the

document. For Cranor, “A system is accurate if (1) it is not possible for a vote to be altered, (2) it is not

possible for a validated vote to be eliminated from the final tally, and (3) it is not possible for an invalid vote to be counted in the final tally.” Combining these definitions produces: An accurate voting system counts all valid votes with minimal processing error such that the intent of eligible voters is reflected in the final tally.

Each account also discusses the requirement that voters be able to cast their vote in secret, without a link between the voter and the cast ballot. This characteristic is referred to as anonymity, confidentiality, or privacy.

Both characteristics, accuracy and privacy, are essential in an ideal voting system. Yet, it is a non-trivial matter to achieve both simultaneously. For example, how do we insure that the intent of eligible voters is reflected in the final tally, without a back-channel to the voter after the vote has been counted but, wouldn’t a back-channel to the voter compromise privacy.

Each account also discusses the requirement that voters be able to cast their vote in secret, without a link.

characteristics, such as security, reliability, ease of use, and cost effectiveness

Basic Principles of E-voting

The main principle of e-voting is that it must be as similar to regular voting as

possible, compliant with election legislation and principles and be at least as secure as regular voting.

Therefore e-voting must be uniform and secret, only eligible persons must be allowed to (e-)vote, every voter should be able to cast only one vote, a voter must not be able to prove in favour of whom he/she voted. In addition to this the collecting of votes must be secure, reliable and accountable.

According to Estonian election legislation e-voting takes place from 6th to 4th day

before Election Day and the following requirements are laid out:

“(1) On advance polling days, voters may vote electronically on the web page

of the National Electoral Committee. A voter shall vote himself or herself.

(2) A voter shall identify himself or herself using the certificate entered on his

or her identity card which enables digital identification.

(3) After identification of the voter, the consolidated list of candidates in the

electoral district of the residence of the voter shall be displayed to the voter on the

web page.

(4) The voter shall indicate on the web page the candidate in the electoral

district of his or her residence for whom he or she wishes to vote and shall confirm

the vote by signing it digitally using the certificate entered on his or her identity card

which enables digital signing.

(5) A notice that the vote has been taken into account shall be displayed to the

voter on the web page.

(6) Voter may change his or her electronic vote during the advance voting

period from 6th to 4th day before Election Day:

1) by voting electronically;

2) by voting in polling station.

E-Voting Procedures

In this section we will describe in greater detail the behaviour of the components

present in the general architecture of the system during different stages of e-voting.

6.1. Key Management

The key management procedures and the security scheme used are one of the most

critical points of the system on which the fulfilment of the main requirements of the

system (privacy and secrecy of voting) depends. What follows is not a final

description of the measures and procedures, but we will outline the main concept,

main risks and possible solutions.

The main tool to guarantee the secrecy of voting in the system is asymmetric

cryptography. A system key pair is generated, the public component of which is

integrated into client software and is used to encrypt the vote. The private component of the key pair is used in the Vote Counting Application to decrypt the vote. It is of utmost importance that the use of private key is possible only for counting the votes in the VCA (at 19.00 on election day and, if necessary, during recount). When the period for filing complaints has expired, the private key will be destroyed The privacy and secrecy of an e-voter can be compromised by a simultaneous occurrence of two security hazards: a party appears in the system (or outside the system) who has access to both the private key of the system as well as the digitally signed votes. Even though this data is separated in the system, the risk remains. A one and only private key is probably a lot easier to protect than the digitally signed e-votes – the latter pass through several system components (Voter, VFS, VSS) and data transfer channels, consequently, the danger of leaked e-votes is higher. Thus for ensuring the security the main focus should be on key management.

The private key is subject to two dangers:

* Compromise or becoming publicly available. The occurrence of this would

enable the parties in possession of digitally signed e-votes to determine who cast a

vote in favour of whom, thus compromising the privacy of the voter.

* Corruption. The private key carrier may be destroyed, lost or be corrupted because of a technical error. When this occurs it becomes impossible to decrypt the e-votes and all the electronically cast e-votes are lost. This is a critical danger and therefore two key pairs should be used simultaneously in the system.

The key pair is generated in a Hardware Security Module (HSM) in such a way that

the private component never leaves the module. The generation of the key pair and

use of private key is maintained by key managers, there should be several of them. A scheme “N out of M” is recommended, for National Electoral Committee four

members out of seven should be present in order to perform security critical

operations. Key managers have physical (for example a keycard) as well as

knowledge-based (PIN-code) authentication devices for communicating with the HSM.

The procedures of key management, meaning the generation of the key pair and PINs, delivery of the public component to the vendor of client application, preservation of the private component, its backup and delivery to the VCA must be subject to audit supervision and should be described in a separate document.

Paper voting system

Paper-based voting: The voter gets a blank ballot and use a pen or a marker to indicate he want to vote for which candidate. Hand-counted ballots is a time and labour consuming process, but it is easy to manufacture paper ballots and the ballots can be retained for verifying, this type is still the most common way to vote

In paper voting, the conformation to these principles is achieved via voter identification, supervised voting and distributed counting procedures. People are admitted to the polling station only once, and they only get one opportunity to cast their vote. It is also hard to add invalid ballots to or remove valid ballots from the ballot box unseen. The paper system uses separate counting sessions in the different districts, and allows any citizen to attend the counting process, and thereby

verify the result. Moreover, since voting is done under supervision of the election officials, you will be guaranteed a private voting environment. This is a warrant for the secrecy of your vote. Via these aspects, paper voting has acquired a large deal of trust in the experience of citizens.

Still, the ease with which this system has been replaced in the Netherlands suggest that there are other factors involved as well. One may argue that the electronic voting machines currently in use have been accepted based on passivity rather than trust. When these machines were introduced in the Netherlands, there has not been much debate about the conformation to the aforementioned principles. Instead, their introduction has been more or less tacitly accepted in spite of decreased transparency which is typical of passivity.

Paper voting has earned a large amount of trust in the experience of citizens, partly due to the well organised social context. Progress in technology should not lead to problems with democratic progress in society, which may easily become the result of distrust in the election system. If voting technology mediates the relation between people and democracy in such a way that the experience of trust and stability is reduced, for whatever reason, the actions that are invited are political passivity on the one hand, and protest and obstruction on the other.

Voting by Paper Ballot

In colonial America, early voters substituted beans, kernels of corn, seashells, or

rocks for the multi-colored balls used in Greece, as well as using a show of hands and voice to conduct elections (Rusk 313). In 1629, the first vote credited with using paper ballots took place in a Salem, Massachusetts church and by the Civil War only Kentucky and Virginia were still voting by voice.6 In 1800, the Northwest Territory enacted a law stating that elections should be held by ballot.

Paper-based E-voting system

In a paper based e-voting system, a touch screen is used in voting. After the voter has finished casting his votes, the unit prints out a hardcopy of the ballot which the voter has to pass to the election officer in charge so that it can be counted in a centralized location. The ballots will then be counted through optical-scan voting systems.

This system has the advantage of a paper trail as every person’s votes are recorded on a piece of paper. However, holes that are not properly aligned in a punch card or stray marks on an optical-scan card may lead to a vote not being counted by the machine. Moreover, physical ballots can still be lost during or after transit to the counting stations.

Direct recording electronic systems

A DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting system consists of a computer with a touch-screen monitor, a permanent storage medium such as a write-once memory card, software, and, in some systems, a ballot printer.

The computer is much like a home computer. A touch-screen monitor allows the user to touch a marked spot on the monitor surface with his finger, thus entering data as if the screen were a keyboard; you have seen one if you have ever used an Automatic Teller Machine.

The software consists of two parts:

1) An Operating System that supports the voting software and directly controls the monitor, the permanent storage, and any other device that forms part of the computer system.

2) The voting system itself, which runs as an application on the Operating System. It manages the user interface, guards against certain user errors – e.g., it refuses to accept a vote if the user votes for more candidates than there are offices to be filled – and records the vote of each user on the user’s command. The voting system also counts the votes and records the counts, or else cooperates with a central computer to produce these results.

The ballot printer, if there is one, produces a document that may look like a ballot; it shows the choices made by the user. After the user has examined it, he may direct the system to record his vote or he may ask for another chance to vote. When the voter has made his choice, the system disposes of this document in one of a number of ways, which will be described later. Most of the DRE systems installed in the United States today do not have these printers.

Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems

This is essentially voting through a comput

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