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ElectionGuard Roadmap

Microsoft Defending Democracy Program: ElectionGuard

2021 Roadmap

Our 2021 roadmap takes the learnings from the different applications we deployed in 2020 and rationalizes them into a practice we hope to establish with the community in 2021. Our goal is to empower a community of participants and contributors within which Microsoft takes part in and provides architectural and implementation guidance, but is fundamentally driven by the needs of the community in establishing the best ways to implement end-to-end verifiable elections and post-election audits.

We took our first step toward this new vision with the release of the electionguard-cpp ballot-encryption repo last week. Combined with the electionguard-python repo that implements the full suite of ElectionGuard SDK functionality and the base electionguard specification and documentation repo, we have laid the foundation for our future direction. Our goal for the first half of 2021 is to have a full suite of code, tests, workflows, and package deployments more directly associated with the conventions and requirements indicated by the specification. We plan to publish and generate both more comprehensive but also granular examples and use cases to enable easier and more focused contributions by the community as well.

We will also continue to enthusiastically support innovative pilot opportunities exemplifying end-to-end verifiable elections and post-election audits. Join our monthly calls, post ideas and issues, and otherwise let us know how ElectionGuard can help improve trust in elections.

1.0 Specification
  • a final, fully-developed specification integrated directly into the SDK;
  • updates to election manifest and election artifact descriptions and specifications
  • a more modular approach to documentation and contribution to lessen the learning curve and overhead necessary to participate and contribute
  • more prescriptive guidance on verifier construction
C++ ballot encryption library
  • repo that performs encryption exclusively (for embedded encryption applications such as precinct scanners)
  • standalone source that uses a version of HACL* packaged up by EverCrypt for high assurance (thank you EverCrypt team!)
  • enables ElectionGuard to eliminate GMP as a dependency
Release an ElectionGuard.Encrypt nuget package built from electionguard-cpp as a ballot encrypter for low performance devices
A consistent, efficient set of data interfaces across the ElectionGuard, C++, and Python repos
  • Data serialization using Protobuf for input/output/data consistency across electionguard-cpp and electionguard-python
  • Restructuring ballot and device aggregation to better support audits and scalability in general
  • Renaming and refactoring all repos for more descriptive and specific naming patterns
Compose community changes into electionguard-python release v1.1.16
Optimization changes for service implementations of electionguard-python release v1.2.0
Introduce service docker containers in electionguard-api
Migrate 0.95 specification to Github
  • Implement specification in diffable, searchable format in Github
  • Adopt mkdocs material template for documentation and integrate with remaining ElectionGuard guide

2020 In Review

2020 taught many lessons.

In the first half of the year, after our successful Fulton, WI Election Pilot with VotingWorks and InfernoRed as well as feedback from our Bounty Program, we chose to migrate from the C library we released in September 2019 to Python and establish a revamped reference implementation in a language suitable for translation into multiple other languages. (As such, our implementation doesn't focus on Pythonic optimizations necessarily, but emphasizes structures and practices replicable across many languages.)

In the second half of the year, responding to COVID caused us to develop a remote voting app with InfernoRed, Markup, and the US House Democratic Caucus to enable representatives to vote by secret ballot safely, securely, and remotely for Caucus leadership positions. We also worked with the Canadian voting company Neuvote to showcase their electronic- and remote-paper-based system in Brazil as part of a demonstration of future voting system options.

We also had the opportunity to further collaborate with VotingWorks, this time on post-election audits. Driven principally by Rice University professor Dan Wallach's work with Arlo, ElectionGuard provided the "back end" for Inyo County's Risk-limiting Audit of the November 3 election.

Last and definitely not least, we had our first independent verifiers developed and published.

We thank all our collaborators and contributors for their contributions, of course, but also how they're informing our future direction.

2020 Roadmap

Use ElectionGuard in a real-world end-to-end verifiable election
  • Run a verifiable election Fulton, Wisconsin with VotingWorks using smart cards, a ballot box, an admin device, and a ballot tracking site.
  • Integrate ElectionGuard with the VotingWorks print station and user flow
  • Build ballot box functionality to capture and seal ballots
  • Build admin device to enable tallies and key ceremonies
  • Build tracking site to enable verification code lookup and tally/results download
Use ElectionGuard in a real-world post-election audit
  • Run a post-election election audit with Inyo, California using VotingWorks Arlo using ElectionGuard as a back end
  • Identify learnings and code refactoring necessary to reflect the different data structures and scalability considerations of audits
Update the ElectionGuard specification to 0.95.0
Support building ElectionGuard into additional voting systems
  • Enable remote, secret-ballot voting for Democratic Caucus of the US House of Representatives
  • Work with InfernoRed and Markup to enable House-distributed iPhones to perform ballot encryption and House Democratic leadership to schedule and tally secret-ballot elections for leadership and committee positions
Release and iterate on electionguard-python as a core implementation that meets specification 0.95.0
  • Implement a canonical library addressing all ElectionGuard SDK functionality:
  • Key generation
  • Ballot encryption
  • Ballot sealing
  • Tally generation
  • Verifier specification
  • Build library with an eye to extensibility rather than performance and local language optimization (i.e., we'll be less Pythonic than some might prefer for the base implementation)
Integrate ElectionGuard into a set of election tools

2019 Roadmap

Initial specification and electionguard-c release
Demonstrate ElectionGuard Reference Implementation at Aspen Security Conference