Local Election Made Nearly Exciting by E-Vote Trial

By Gary Cutlack on at

The process of voting and the world not changing even a bit as a result was made slightly less tedious in Gateshead yesterday, where a modern e-voting terminal was trialled to see if it made anything easier or the kids more likely to press part of a screen next to a man's insincere face than do an X on a bit of paper.

To stop everyone saying it's hacked and the results are a lie, voters taking part had to use a PIN number that was sent to their homes; a number that's  then entered into the terminal and the fun of selecting form the local nutters who populate regional councils begins.

Rather disappointingly, this did not happen in a manner that meant anything, as voters were only doing it for pretend in Gateshead. After doing their real, counting vote on a physical ballot paper using the old X-marks-the-least-offensive option way, they were then given the choice of having of a second, meaningless, digital vote. For practise.

The work of a team at Warwick University, the e-voting system uses end-to-end encryption to stop the losers crying fraud to the local paper and their 152 Facebook friends. Security engineering professor Feng Hao explained: "Imagine a picture of London skyline. The picture is formed of millions of pixels. Each voter holds the key to one pixel, which is their vote. Every pixel is encrypted so it does not reveal any private information about the individual vote."

Any interference results in a failure of the "mathematical relations between pixels" in a way computer scientists see and think is easy. There's no promise this system will ever see the light of day in a for-real election, though. It's just an exercise funded by the European Research Council and Innovate UK. [Warwick via BBC]