Microsoft and DARPA. As we have learned in the past few days, these two perhaps unexpected actors are getting more involved in the attempt to fix American democracy. The connection between them is a little known company now coming under the microscope. The company, Galois, bills itself as having developed “cutting edge computer science and mathematics to advance the state of the art in software and hardware trustworthiness”. According to a really interesting article by Koin written by Associated Press
Microsoft is announcing an ambitious effort intended to make U.S. voting more secure and verifiable. The company will offer free open-source software that several top U.S. elections vendors say they will explore incorporating into their voting equipment.
The software kit is being developed with Oregon-based Galois, which is separately creating a secure voting system prototype under contract with the Pentagon’s advanced research agency, DARPA. The Microsoft kit is dubbed “Election Guard.” It was announced Monday by CEO Satya Nadella at a Seattle developer’s conference.
ElectionGuard aims to provide “end-to-end” verification of voting in two ways, Benaloh said. First, it lets voters confirm that their votes are accurately recorded. Second, the unique coded tracker it produces registers an encrypted version of the vote that keeps the ballot choice itself secret while ensuring votes are accurately counted. Outsiders such as election watchdog groups, political parties, journalists and voters themselves can verify online that votes were properly counted without being altered.
The system would also allow for reliable post-election audits and recounts. Microsoft executives say they also plan to build a prototype voting system for reference. A spinoff of Galois called Free & Fair developed the sophisticated post-election audits , known as “risk-limiting,” for Colorado, which was the first U.S. state to require the audits recommended in the National Academies of Sciences report.