In the last few elections in the US, there has been concern over the validity of votes. As more and more electronic machines are being used to record votes, and often being built with very little security, how can we be sure that the data is being collected, tabulated, and securely stored for our elections? It’s an issue that most countries face, and will continue to face as they deal with larger and larger elections.

Developing a secure way to collect, store, and verify data is hard. We struggle with that on a regular basis, and I think we often tend to ping across both ends of the spectrum on how to handle this. We tightly control all access and storage of data,  keeping access as limited as possible, and we still have regular problems with data loss and breaches. Or we may open up our systems to large groups of users, essentially ignoring security. Is there any hope for voting data?

I came across this idea from David Bismark that explains a fairly simple, and reliable method of both allowing access to data, while also keeping the secrecy necessary for each person’s vote.  It’s in a TED Talk that discusses the idea in a few minutes, and it’s rather amazing.

I don’t know if there’s something we can learn here to apply to other data issues, but I would guess that any area that needs to distribute data while protecting privacy could use something similar.

Steve Jones

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