As we get closer to the 2020 presidential election, all eyes are on protecting the system we use to ensure the integrity of the election process. Recollections of the 2016 election brings forth memories of Russia meddling through various means. Rumors have swirled as well around North Korea seeking some way to interfere. And even in the paper based era of 2000 we recall the problem of a hanging chad. Whether tech based or traditional, we need a system we can trust.
Recently, Microsoft announced that its open-source software that was developed to protect elections will be available on GitHub. Aptly named ElectionGuard, the software is intended for election tech companies who can integrate the software into their systems.
A few months back in July, the software’s effectiveness was demonstrated by simulating a hack attack. As cybersecurity concerns continue to escalate, Microsoft has ramped up its efforts and focus on this particular solution. The tech giant over the past year has warned 10,000 customers that they have been targeted by foreign countries.
Microsoft states, “"ElectionGuard is accessible by design and will make voting more secure, verifiable and efficient anywhere it's used in the United States or in democratic nations around the world." It is working with the manufacturers of voting systems in the US to evaluate and ensure its ElectionGuard is useful and can be integrated.
The first voting location to use the solution is Columbia University for the 2020 presidential elections.
For more specifics on the technology, ElectionGuard is an open source software development kit (SDK) and leverages homomorphic encryption to ensure that votes recorded by electronic systems of any type remain encrypted, secure, and secret. Meanwhile, ElectionGuard also allows verifiable and accurate tallying of ballots by any 3rd party organization without compromising secrecy or security.
GitHub is home to over 40 million developers working together to host and review code, manage projects, and build software together.