Voting machine security is a growing concern following a number of issues during the last two presidential election cycles. Microsoft is looking to do its part to dispel doubts about the legitimacy of results. It announced a partnership with Hart InterCivic, one of the big three election machine providers in the US, to implement Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software.
ElectionGuard allows voters to ensure their votes have been counted properly (and not altered) through end-to-end verifiability. Third-party election security experts can build their own programs to audit election results through ElectionGuard.
Hart will test ElectionGuard in its Verity voting system, which is used by more than 500 jurisdictions in 17 states. Voters will still use a touchscreen and print out their selections or fill out a paper ballot. Once they scan their ballot into Verity, ElectionGuard will count and encrypt it.
Voters will then receive a verification code, which they can use to check on the web that their ballot was correctly counted. Microsoft says the content of a voter’s ballot isn’t revealed during this process and it will remain private.
Microsoft has been working on the technology for a few years. It made ElectionGuard open source and available to all in 2019 with an aim of making the US voting process more transparent. Hart’s the first major voting machine maker to incorporate the software. Perhaps if it works as promised and it’s widely used enough by the 2024 presidential campaign, ElectionGuard will help to tamp down future conspiracy theories about election results.