Punchscan: Designing an Independent Verification Mechanism for Elections
Masters Thesis, 2008
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Punchscan is an open-source vote-counting system, the results of which are indepen- dently verifiable by voters through their participation in the election audit process. Vol- untary and universally available, this audit process establishes an overwhelmingly high statistical degree of confidence in the integrity of the outcome. At the same time it was developed around the recognition that the secret-ballot, and in turn voter privacy, remain a fundamental requirement in modern democracies. Punchscan offers voters the ability to see their vote count, while at the same time protecting against improper influence.
This thesis describes the design and development of Punchscan from an information security and system design perspective. It begins by examining the concerns over contem- porary electronic vote-counting systems, and introduces principles (such as independent verification) from which a more secure system can be built. We go on to explore the functional components, their design purpose, and the election/verification procedures of Punchscan. We present a case study of Punchscan's first use in a binding election. Finally we end with a discussion of how Punchscan met its design goals, and propose directions for future work.