State-wide Elections, Optical Scan Voting Systems, and the Pursuit of Integrity

Tigran Antonyan, Seda Davtyan, Sotiris Kentros, Aggelos Kiayias, Laurent Michel, Nicolas Nicolaou, Alexander Russell and Alexander A. Shvartsman
IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security (Special Issue on Electronic Voting)
Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Part: 1, December 2009, pp 597-610


In recent years, two distinct electronic voting technologies have been introduced and extensively utilized in election procedures: direct recording electronic (DRE) systems and optical scanner (OS) systems. The latter are typically deemed safer, as they inherently provide a voter verifiable paper trail that enables hand-counted audits and recounts that rely on direct voter input. For this reason, optical scanner machines have been widely deployed in the United States. Despite the growing popularity of these machines, they are known to suffer from various security vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, can compromise the integrity of elections in which the machines are used. This article studies general auditing procedures designed to enhance the integrity of elections conducted with optical scan equipment and, additionally, describes the specific auditing procedures currently in place in the State of Connecticut. We present an abstract view of a typical OS voting technology and its relationship to the general election process. With this in place, we lay down a “temporal-resource” adversarial model, providing a simple language for describing the disruptive power of a potential adversary. Finally, we identify how audit procedures, injected at various critical stages before, during, and after an election, can frustrate such adversarial interference and so contribute to election integrity. We present the implementation of such auditing procedures for elections in the State of Connecticut utilizing the Premiere (Diebold) AccuVote optical scanner; these audits were conducted by the Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center) at the School of Engineering of the University of Connecticut on request of the Office of the Secretary of the State. We discuss the effectiveness of such procedures in every stage of the process and we present results and observations gathered from the analysis of past election data.

Download full paper: ieee.pdf