Seattle: In a bid to help countries ensure secure and verifiable voting, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced "ElectionGuard" -- a free open-source software development kit (SDK).
"ElectionGuard" will enable end-to-end verification of elections, open results to third-party organisations for secure validation, and allow individual voters to confirm their votes were correctly counted, announced Nadella during the keynote at Microsoft Build developer conference here on Monday.
"'ElectionGuard' will make voting secure, more accessible, and more efficient anywhere it's used in the US or in democratic nations around the world," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust.
Developed with Galois, "ElectionGuard" will be available starting this summer to election officials and election technology suppliers who can incorporate the technology into voting systems.
"We currently have partnerships with election technology suppliers responsible for more than half of the voting machines sold in the US," Burt added.
"ElectionGuard" is not intended to replace paper ballots but rather to supplement and improve systems that rely on them, and it is not designed to support internet voting.
"ElectionGuard" is verifiable, allowing voters and third-party organisations to verify election results.
It is also secure, auditable and open source -- free and flexible with the ability to be used with off-the-shelf hardware.
"ElectionGuard" provides each voter a tracker with a unique code that can be used to follow an encrypted version of the vote through the entire election process via a web portal provided by election authorities.
During the process of vote-casting, voters have an optional step that allows them to confirm that their trackers and encrypted votes accurately reflect their selections.
But once a vote is cast, neither the tracker nor any data provided through the web portal can be used to reveal the contents of the vote.
After the election is complete, the tracker codes can be used by voters to confirm that their votes were not altered or tampered with and that they were properly counted, said Microsoft.
Voters, candidates, news media and any observers can run verifiers of their own or downloaded from sources of their choosing to confirm tabulations are as reported.
On the security front, "ElectionGuard" uses something called homomorphic encryption - which enables mathematical procedures a" like counting - to be done with fully encrypted data.
The ElectionGuard SDK will be available through GitHub beginning this summer.