Technical Audit of an Electronic Polling Station: A Case Study

Technical Audit of an Electronic Polling Station: A Case Study

Hector Alaiz-Moreton (Universidad de Leon, Spain), Luis Panizo-Alonso (Universidad de Leon, Spain), Ramón A. Fernandez-Diaz (Universidad de Leon, Spain) and Javier Alfonso-Cendon (Universidad de Leon, Spain)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2654-6.ch011
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This paper shows the lack of standard procedures to audit e-voting systems and also describes a practical process of auditing an e-voting experience based on a Direct-recording Electronic system (D.R.E). This system has been tested in a real situation, in the city council of Coahuila, Mexico, in November 2008. During the auditing, several things were kept in mind, in particular those critical in complex contexts, as democratic election processes are. The auditing process is divided into three main complementary stages: analysis of voting protocol, analysis of polling station hardware elements, and analysis of the software involved. Each stage contains several items which have to be analyzed at low level with the aim to detect and resolve possible security problems.
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Election Process

For each electronic polling station, an electoral table supervises the voting process, including both, the casting of the ballots and the counting of the votes. Citizens who live in the constituency where the polling station is installed compose the electoral table. That means that a President, a Technical Secretary, a person in charge of counting, and a Substitute to replace any of the other three in case of absence.

The people of the Electoral Table have to do several tasks such as: open and close the Electoral Table, install, open and close the polling station, use the control codes, receive the votes, close the voting, close the polling station, count the votes, send the results and finally publishing the results at the Electoral College. All steeps have perfectly defined by the Electoral and Voter Participation Institute of the State of Coahuila.

The polling station of our case study is based on a printed code to operate the e-Polling Station. Two kinds of codes are available to operate the e-polling station: control codes and access election codes. In our station, these codes consist of printed barcode cards that slide through a reader. These codes allow the handling of the station, and must be used only by the president of the electoral table:

  • Verification Code: To check the right function of the station prior to opening it.

  • Open Code: Used just once each Election Day to start the voting.

  • Close Code: To be used only once in order to finish the voting.

  • Restore Code: In case of power failure, the station must be restarted and data recovered by means of this code.

  • Reprint Code: To get a second copy of the printed ballot in case of malfunction during its printing.

<b>Electoral Day</b>: <b>Opening</b></div><p>The Electoral Day, under the supervision of both, representatives of the political parties and electoral observers, the people of the electoral table will handle the polling station and guide all the process of casting the votes.</p><p>First, they will set the e-polling station up, checking also that the ballot box is empty. After that, they will count and register the number of available access codes so that they can certify, at the end of the day that the results from the e-polling station are valid. The president will install the station and the screen in order to guarantee the secrecy of the votes.</p><p>After installing the station, the president will open the station and check its function by sliding its verification code card. Once this task is finished, the Open Code will be used to open the station. The result of this operation is a printed report that must show that the database is empty and, therefore, no votes at all. The number of access votes is also printed, and must match the number of cards received. Finally, date and hour of opening are also printed. This printed report must be attached to the minutes taken during the whole Election Day.</p><p>In case of failure of the electronic polling station, the ballots will be cast with a traditional ballot box, being this fact written in the minutes (and also in the incident registration form). After this previous work, the president will open the Electoral College.</p></div><div><h3 id="changing-the-station’s-address">Changing the Station’s Address</h3><p>Each electronic Polling Station has to be placed in the address the Electoral Authority decides. It can only be changed due to the following reasons: The selected place does not exist; it is closed; it is a forbidden place (a factory, a church, a bar, etc.); it does not allow the privacy, secrecy of the vote; there are no easy ways to access it; in case of force majeure. The new location must be placed in the same constituency and as close as possible to the original one, being its address published in the outside of that original location.</p></div></div><div id="table-of-contents"><h2>Complete Chapter List</h2><div class="search-contents"><span class="text"> Search this Book: </span><span class="text-box-container"><input id="txtKeywords" type="text" maxlength="50" onkeypress="return SearchBookFulltextHandleEnter(event, 69197);" placeholder="Full text search terms" title="Full text search terms" class="full-text-search-box" /></span><div class="inline-block search-contents-xs-full-width"><span class="search"><span class="search-button" onclick="RemoveSpecialCharacters();SearchBookFulltext(69197);"></span></span><span class="reset"><span onclick="RemoveSpecialCharacters();SearchBookFulltextReset();" class="link-gray-s">Reset</span></span></div></div><div id="searchResults"></div><div id="full-toc"></div><div id="loading-toc" class="text-align-center"><div class="loading-icon-lg"></div></div><script type="text/javascript"> $(document).ready(function () { var bookId = 69197; 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