July 10 – 15 , 2011, Dagstuhl Seminar 11281

Verifiable Elections and the Public


Michael Alvarez (CalTech – Pasadena, US)
Josh Benaloh (Microsoft Corporation – Redmond, US)
Alon Rosen (The Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya, IL)
Peter Y. A. Ryan (University of Luxembourg, LU)

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Dagstuhl Report, Volume 1, Issue 7 Dagstuhl Report
List of Participants
Dagstuhl Seminar Schedule [pdf]


This seminar brought together leading researchers from computer and social science, policymakers, and representatives from industry to discuss the issue of ``Verifiable Elections and the Public." The purpose was to present new research, develop new interdisciplinary approaches for studying election technologies, and to determine ways to bridge the gap between research and practice. This seminar built upon the foundation provided by an earlier Dagstuhl seminar in 2007: Frontiers of Electronic Voting, Seminar number 07311.

The initial sessions of the seminar were devoted to a conceptual discussion of verifiable voting, and to a summary of the apparent obstacles associated with implementing innovations in election technology. There was a general sense from most seminar participants that while great progress has been made in development of verifiable voting systems, there has not been as much progress towards testing, implementing, and deploying these new voting systems. Additionally, the research community would like to be more involved in policymaking and the practice of election administration. In particular, a panel discussion regarding obstacles to innovation was quite productive, outlining several reasons for this feeling that insufficient progress has been made, including politics, a lack of interest on the part of voters, legal and regulatory confusion, a lack of sensitivity to the training and incentives of election officials, and a sense that some efforts to innovate have been overly ambitious and complex.

After a productive discussion of obstacles to innovation, seminar participants heard talks about a variety of recent evoting and Internet voting trials and projects. These included talks on developments in Australia, Brazil, India, Estonia, Switzerland, and Norway, as well as discussion of voting technology implementations in two U.S. counties: Cuyahoga, Ohio and Sarasota, Florida. These presentations provided a great deal of real-world information on technological and practical issues regarding the implementation of new voting systems throughout the world.

Substantial time was devoted to the presentation of new voting systems. Some of these presentations regarded innovative new conceptual and hardware schemes, including new protocols for elections and ideas like using smartphones as voting platforms. Other presentations focused on advancement and elaboration of existing voting systems, for example further development of voting systems like Helios, Wombat, Prt Voter, and Scantegrity. All of these presentations documented the significant progress that has been made in the scientific community, in terms of development and elaboration of important cryptographic and procedural protocols for voting, as well as new ideas for potential uses of technology in elections.

One of the most exciting new developments since the earlier 2007 Dagstuhl seminar has been the implementation and testing of some of the new voting systems that are under development. These include implementations of Helios and Wombat, and also a systematic usability and understandability project regarding Pr\^{e}t \`{a} Voter. These efforts are providing important data that is aiding in the continued development of these and other related new voting systems.

Voting online continues to expand throughout the world, as was widely discussed during talks on projects in Estonia, Norway, and Switzerland. And many of the talks about new voting systems regarded new protocols that can be deployed online, like the extension of Scantegrity to remote online use (``Remotegrity''). Presentations about these projects came from social scientists, technologists, and policymakers.

At the same time, there continue to be important questions raised from researchers about voting online, focusing largely on concerns about the security of online voting - specifically including the challenges of making online voting coercion-resistant in a practical, convincing, and usable way. These concerns fueled much discussion during the seminar, and it is clear that more research about the voting systems being currently deployed, and those proposed for use in the near future, is needed.

Concern is growing in the research community about how to maximize the impact of the considerable body of research that has accumulated in recent years. Seminar participants raised concerns about ways to improve the science of studying election technology, as well as methods to improve connections and collaborations between the scientific and policymaking communities. These issues will continue to intensify in the near future, and we hope that the discussions at this Dagstuhl seminar will fuel progress in the development of new scientific opportunities for research and dissemination, as well as closer collaboration between scientists and policymakers.

Related Dagstuhl Seminar


  • Security
  • Information Assurance
  • Cryptography
  • Society
  • Interdisciplinary (standarization/legal And Social Problems/political Sciences)


  • Elections
  • Voting
  • Verifiability
  • Voting protocols
  • Electronic voting
  • Voting machines
  • Encryption methods
  • Anonymous channels
  • Privacy protection
  • Authentication
  • Integrity
  • Digital receipts
  • Coercion resistance
  • Usability
  • Interfaces
  • Implementation issues
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Threat models
  • Formal security analysis
  • Commercial voting systems
  • Public policy
  • E-democracy
  • Technology and society
  • Legal requirements
  • Legal models
  • And standardization


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


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