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This document describes the technical details of the ElectionGuard toolkit which can be used in conjunction with many new and existing voting systems to enable both end-to-end (E2E) verifiability and privacy-enhanced risk-limiting audits (RLAs). ElectionGuard is not a complete election system. It instead provides components that are designed to be flexible and to promote innovation by election officials and system developers. When properly used, it can promote voter confidence by empowering voters to independently verify the accuracy of election results.
End-to-end (E2E) verifiability
An E2E-verifiable election provides artifacts which allow voters to confirm that their votes have been accurately recorded and counted. Specifically, an election is End-to-end (E2E) verifiable if two properties are achieved.
- Individual voters can verify that their votes have been accurately recorded.
- Voters and observers can verify that the recorded votes have been accurately counted.
An E2E-verifiable tally can be used as the primary tally in an election or as a verifiable secondary tally alongside traditional methods. ElectionGuard is compatible with in-person voting – either using an electronic ballot-marking device or an optical scanner capable of reading hand-marked or machine-marked ballots, with voting by mail, and even with Internet voting.
Risk-limiting audits (RLAs)
RLAs offer election administrators efficient methods to validate reported election tallies against physical ballot records. There are several varieties of RLAs, but the most efficient and practical are ballot-comparison audits in which electronic cast-vote records (CVRs) are individually compared against physical ballots.
The challenge with ballot-comparison audits is that public release of the full set of CVRs can compromise voter privacy while an audit without public disclosure of CVRs offers no basis for public confidence in the outcome. ElectionGuard can bridge this gap by enabling public disclosure of encrypted ballots that can matched directly to physical ballots selected for auditing and can also be proven to match the reported tallies.
About this specification
This specification can be used by expert reviewers to evaluate the details of the ElectionGuard process and by independent parties to write ElectionGuard verifiers to confirm the consistency of election artifacts with announced election results. The details of the ElectionGuard Application Programming Interface (API) are provided in a separate document.