The U.S. Defense Department Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has announced that it is building a secure voting system.
The $10 million voting system project aims to secure voting machines from hacking. With externally verifiable results, the project would help deter vote tampering and/or manipulation. The agency is working with a computer science and research firm called Galois, which develops secure systems for other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and NASA.
A primary feature of DARPA’s voting system will be to utilize open source technologies for both hardware and software. The code and technology used are free, and open for the public to review. Open source technology helps mitigate a major concern about voting machine vendors that rely on proprietary technology, specifically the lack of transparency makes it difficult–and impossible in some cases–to verify recorded results and scan for underlying vulnerabilities.
The goal is to establish usable prototypes, not manufacture machines.
“This investment alone won’t solve all issues w/ election security, but it will demo what’s possible & provide community w/ best practices. In addition, the evaluation could provide a template for using electronics design as part of the security solution for any critical system,” the agency announced on their Twitter feed. “DARPA believes a domain such as voting security – where integrity must be incredibly high and the faith of the public is required – is the correct place to engage the community to begin crafting a more secure future.”
While election security may seem like mission creep for a military-affiliated agency, DARPA has been behind many technologies originally designed for military use that were later used for civilian purposes, the most obvious and widely known project being the Internet (originally called DARPANet or ARPANet in the 1970s).
Read more about the DARPA project here.