Academic initiatives have an important role to play in making digital elections feasible in a manner appropriate to India’s democratic environment.
Protocols for End-to-end Verifiable Voting (E2V) have been around for quite some time.
🤔 Widespread adoption has been hampered because the underlying cryptography is not intuitively appreciable by the public, a requirement for any democratically viable voting method.
🎟️ Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) using paper records (VVPR) is a possible solution, but the public has to trust the post-election chain of custody.
Despite decades of research, an intuitive electronic voting protocol that combines 🎫 VVPR + 🔒 cryptographic security with all of the following is yet to be identified:
- Recovery from errors: if the voting system fails to verify an election, how can it recover a legitimate result from the same voting data without having to run an another election?
- Secret ballot: voter privacy is of particular importance to an unbiased result, and it should be impossible to identify how one voter or a group of voters contributed to the result.
- Voter authentication: especially in contexts with large populations, it becomes a particular challenge to link voting systems with sound and complete voter registries.
In such a context, interdisciplinary research in conjunction with 👣 Sociology/Anthropology and 🏛️ Political Science is required to:
- We need to create a framework that explains how the current election environment in India functions:
- where it could be compromised,
- where it is inefficient,
- where it excludes individuals, and
- what networks of trust guarantee its legitimacy.
- We need to develop systems for conducting elections at the national and state-level that are E2E-V, feature VVPAT, and efficient methods of error-recovery, secret ballot and voter authentication in light of the vulnerabilities and trust relationships revealed in the previous exercise.
- We also need to assess this system for possible vulnerabilities and create a risk framework for: error recovery, voter privacy, incorrect authentication, and arbitrary exclusion.