The Vector-Ballot Approach for Online Voting Procedures


Looking at current cryptographic-based e-voting protocols, one can distinguish three basic design paradigms (or approaches): (a) Mix-Networks based, (b) Homomorphic Encryption based, and (c) Blind Signatures based. Each of the three possesses different advantages and disadvantages w.r.t. the basic properties of (i) efficient tallying, (ii) universal verifiability, and (iii) allowing write-in ballot capability (in addition to predetermined candidates). In fact, none of the approaches results in a scheme that simultaneously achieves all three. This is unfortunate, since the three basic properties are crucial for efficiency, integrity and versatility (flexibility), respectively. Further, one can argue that a serious business offering of voting technology should offer a flexible technology that achieves various election goals with a single user interface. This motivates our goal, which is to suggest a new “vector-ballot” based approach for secret-ballot e-voting that is based on three new notions: Provably Consistent Vector Ballot Encodings, Shrink-and-Mix Networks and Punch-Hole-Vector-Ballots. At the heart of our approach is the combination of mix networks and homomorphic encryption under a single user interface; given this, it is rather surprising that it achieves much more than any of the previous approaches for e-voting achieved in terms of the basic properties. Our approach is presented in two generic designs called “homomorphic vector-ballots with write-in votes” and “multi-candidate punch-hole vector-ballots”; both of our designs can be instantiated over any homomorphic encryption function.