Electronic voting workshop - after-action report
Matei Vasile / 2015-05-27

Friday, May the 15th 2015, the electronic voting workshop, focused on the technical aspects of electronic voting, which was organized by Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet (ApTI) and The Sponge took place in Bucharest, at ActiveWatch.

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The event lasted two hours and, during that time, the technical issues surrounding the various methods of electronic voting were discussed. Before the event, a series of articles about the various methods of electronic voting used across the world, both now and in the past, have been published on the The Sponge website, under Topic of The Month. Using this as a starting point, along with the experience of the participants in fields such as electoral systems, technology or law, a technical debate took place. The purpose of this debate was to identify and understand the technical issues raised by electronic voting – issues which are usually overlooked in debates about electronic voting.

During the debate, the phases of the voting process have been identified: getting out to vote, authentication for the purposes of establishing the right to vote, marking the ballot, casting the ballot, counting of the ballots and observing the entire electoral process.

For each or this steps, various weaknesses have been identified, both in the case of offline voting and in the case of online voting:





Getting out to ote

- long distances

- insufficient polling stations

- administrative abuses

- multiple voting

- lack of availability (denial of service)

- voting client available only for some devices/opertating systems



- one-time passwords or digital certificates - complicated

- access credentials can be given to a third party

Marking the ballot

- observers can be bypassed


Casting the ballot


- Internet connections can not be adequately secured

Counting of the ballots

- after polling closes, the observers are removed from the premises

- centralized system (compared to the distributed system represented by the classic voting system) – if the system is compromised, the whole election is compromised

Observation of the entire electoral process


- very difficult to observe anomalies in the functioning of the system

- very difficult to guarantee the verifiability of the vote

Other conclusions include:

- Technology and the Internet can be of a lot of help for increasing transparency of the voting process and for optimizing various procedures related to voting, as long as the voting itself and the vote counting is done through the classic means;

- A single bad actor needs less resources for seriously compromising the entire electoral process in the case of electronic voting;

- An electronic voting system ca be attacked from abroad much easier than the classic voting system;

- Even if legislation regarding electronic voting is adopted, it will not be able to go into any detail about essential technical issues. Such legislation would need to just open up the market, mandate the use of open standards and demand that the implemented systems be audited and auditable.

Among the participants to the workshop were members with technical experience of the The Sponge member organizations, such as ApTI, Ceata and ROSEdu, as well as law experts with a knowledge of technical matters and electoral systems experts, such as Septimius Parvu from Expert Forum.

As a result of this debate, a series of articles will be written (in Romanian) and published on the ApTI website. These articles will describe the key issues of electronic voting that have been identified and succinctly presented above and in a manner as accessible for the large public as possible.