Computer scientist David Chaum suggests that cryptography could solve e-voting security woes in the future, and many experts agree. Here's how Chaum's system works.
By Michael Moyer
November 13, 2004
1. When you go into the voting booth, you're presented with an ATM-like screen that lists the candidates. Choose one by tapping that person's name. A message confirming your choice appears at the top of
2. This confirmation is actually two paper receipts, pressed together and then illuminated from behind. Each receipt by itself is an unreadable grid, but when properly aligned, the name you have chosen appears.
3. The receipts show an apparently random array of boxes, but look closer. Wherever a letter should appear, one receipt is black, the other white. Viewed together, the letters are gray, while the background contains a random pattern.
4. After voting, you can take either receipt, but as you open the door to get it, the other drops down into the machine to be used
in case of a recount. Your receipt contains your vote, but it's further encrypted to prevent vote selling.
5. When you get home, you can make sure your vote has been properly counted. Enter the unique serial number on your receipt into a Web site that lists the tallied votes, and an identical copy of your receipt will appear.
6. In addition, any voter will be able to verify the results of the entire election from their home computer. Elections officials will be required to post the encrypted votes, along with "keys" that can selectively decrypt certain votes. This allows individuals to check that every vote matches up with an encrypted receipt without being able to tell whose receipt it is or which candidate the vote