The T-Systems Online Voting Project observed mistakes with its architecture of its 2001 voting protocol and has taken steps to revise it. The revision process asks us to consider how online voting systems can be improved to become more secure and democratic.
The 2001 T-Systems Protocol used different servers for online voting registration (called the Validator) and the online ballot box. According to researchers from T-Systems, an implication of this arbitrary divide was “redundant data management” and “inconsistency of communication problems.” But more importantly, we can analyze that the separation of servers tears the voter’s identity apart from the vote (the Validator knows the voter’s identity, but the ballot box does not). Consequently, hackers that tamper with the ballot box can distort votes and election commissioners will have no way to verify where the votes came from; a further implication is that it is virtually impossible to recover voting data in case of attacks. Remarkably, T-Systems evaluated the shortcomings of its voting system and decided to take steps to improve it.
Learning that separation between voter identity and and votes was not feasibly secure, T-Systems opted for a more centralized database called The Bulletin Board. According to T-Systems:
“The Bulletin Board:
· is a consistent data base for all participants
· plays an absolutely passive role and is not able to communicate with the other players.
· It has the function as a placard, because after the election the public has the possibility to check if certain votes are counted and if they are counted in a correct manner.”
Although the addition of the Bulletin Board cannot fully eliminate threats from hackers, its role as a centralized database allows for efficient and complete recovery of voting information. However, we can evaluate that an obvious security oversight is that the Bulletin Board lacks a way to determine when attacks have occurred on its system; election officials will have to constantly check for consistency between voter identity and ballot box information, both of which are contained in the Bulletin Board.
Moreover, the Bulletin Board’s use as a placard imbues the system with a strong sense of vertical accountability since citizens can verify if their votes are actually counted. Because vertical accountability is essential for ensuring that governments adhere to the will of the public, the Bulletin Board is breakthrough technology that strengthens the potential link between online voting and democratic procedure. However, the greater lesson manifested in T-System's production of the Bulletin Board is that it both reflected on its mistakes and took innovative measures to rectify them.
Diehl, Klaus. Weddeling, Sonia."New Developments in the Voting System and Consequently Implemented Improvements in the Representation of Legal Principles." Online Voting Project. T-Systems. August 2006.