To complement the ability election managers have to perform election verification against the entire collection of ballots in an election, individual voters now have a ballot verification wizard they may step through to be absolutely certain their ballot has been captured; has not been altered in any way; and is being included in the election results tabulation.
What is Verification
Verification is performed against a digest of the cryptographically verifiable ledger database at the heart of the ElectionsOnline system. When the hash value of the digest matches the recalculated value using a specific ballot as the starting point for that recalculation, it proves that the ballot has not been modified in any way since the time the digest was retrieved and the verification process was performed. If that all sounds a bit heavy, the step-by-step details are spelled out at Ballot Verification.
This should not be confused with simply being able to query the system for a specific ballot based on a system-generated identification number, or perhaps even view a ballot as it was submitted by the voter. As detailed at ballot verification, this is bona fide verification built around hash chained values generated by an immutable, ledger database.
How Does a Voter Verify a Ballot
When a voter submits a ballot, they are immediately presented with the opportunity to retrieve and save a digest and a digest tip address. Those two pieces of data, along with the system-generated ballot identifier, are necessary in order to step through the ballot verification wizard at a later time. When performing verification, what is really being proven is that a ballot has not been altered in any way between the time the digest was saved and the moment verification is performed. This is the reason the voter is given the opportunity to save the digest immediately after submitting a ballot into the system rather than to use digest data generated within the process of performing verification.
Election managers should be familiar with the verification process to be able to explain it to their own voters. To help with that, the ability to verify a ballot has been added to the Sample Ballot on this website so anyone may step through the verification experience at any time.
While it could have been technically possible to consolidate some of the steps, the point of breaking the process up into multiple steps using a wizard-style interface is to make the verification process as transparent as possible so voters may see the various steps of verification taking place rather than having to trust some black box process that rolls the whole thing into one step without providing much insight into what is really happening behind the scenes.
Voters in any election must be able to trust that nothing has compromised their vote. Holding true to its reputation for being the industry’s leading innovator, ElectionsOnline is thrilled to provide the only election service with the capability described above for unmatched election integrity. Stay tuned as this exciting capability is only beginning on its journey.