Friday, August 8, 2008

E-Voting Conference in Austria

I am at the 3rd International E-Voting Conference in Bergenz, Austria. There are people here from about 30 different countries - political scientists, election administrators, voting system experts and vendors, computer scientists. Many are leading efforts in their countries to introduce electronic voting (which includes remote e-voting, also called Internet voting, as well as e-voting machines in polling places). Yesterday, I presented a paper from my dissertation research on Internet voting (my powerpoint presentation will be posted here soon).

I was hoping to blog live from the conference, but unfortunately (and ironically) the hotel's wireless Internet access has been disabled during the conference proceedings (and all of last night) so the presentations can be streamed live on the conference's website. The presentations (and live streaming) start today at 9:00 am (that's 3:00 am in Washington, DC), available at:

Below is the conference program.

The 3rd International Conference on E-Voting promises to become a meeting point for Experts from all over the world, discussing technical, social and legal aspects of E-Voting in the Castle Hofen, in Bregenz.

Like in the last years, we have had a double-blind review system to guarantee a high quality of speakers and papers for the Conference. In total we have received more than 30 contributions. The following papers were selected to be presented and discussed at the Conference:

Wednesday, 6th August

Pre-Conference Programme
(Admission is included in the participation fee)

09:00 Competition

19:00 Welcome Cocktail

Thursday, 7th August

09:00 Welcome Notes by Michael Remmert, Rüdiger Grimm and Robert Krimmer

Session 1: E-Voting Experiences
Chair: Robert Krimmer

11:00 E-Voting in the Netherlands; from General Acceptance to General Doubt in Two Years
Leontine Loeber

11:45 Improving the Transparency of Remote E-Voting: The Estonian Experience
Epp Maaten; Thad Hall

Session 2: Empirical Findings of E-Voting
Chair: Gregor Wenda

14:00 Assessing the Impact of E-Voting Technologies on Electoral Outcomes: an Analysis of Buenos Aires’ 2005 Congressional Election
Gabriel Katz, R. Michael Alvarez, Ernesto Calvo, Marcelo Escolar, Julia Pomares

14:45 Assessing Internet Voting as an Early Voting Reform in the United States
Alicia Kolar Prevost

Session 3: Legal & Procedural Issues of E-Voting
Chair: Susanne Caarls

16:00 A Methodology for Assessing Procedural Security: A Case Study in E-Voting
Komminist Weldemariam, Adolfo Villafiorita

16:45 Secure Remote Voter Registration
Victor Morales-Rocha, Jordi Puiggali, Miguel Soriano

17:30 Long-term Retention in E-Voting – Legal Requirements and Technical Implementation
Rotraud Gitter, Lucie Langer, Susanne Okunick, Zoi Opitz-Talidou

18:15 International Programme Committee Meeting

19:30 Reception in Bregenz

Friday, 8th August

Session 4: Comparison of E-Voting
Chair: Thad Hall

09:00 The E-Voting Readiness Index: A Survey
Robert Krimmer, Ronald Schuster

09:45 Malfunction or Misfits: Comparing Requirements, Inputs, and Public Confidence Outcomes of E-Voting in the U.S. and Europe
John Sebes, Gregory A. Miler

Session 5: Verification of E-Voting
Chair: Melanie Volkamer

11:00 Simple and Secure Electronic Voting with Prêt à Voter
David Lundin

11:45 Improving the Farnel Voting Scheme
Roberto Araújo, Peter Y. A. Ryan

Session 6: Certification of E-Voting
Chair: Thomas Buchsbaum

14:00 Development of a Formal IT Security Model for Remote Electronic Voting Systems
Melanie Volkamer, Rüdiger Grimm

14:45 The Certification of E-Voting Mechanisms. Fighting against Opacity
Jordi Barrat i Esteve

16:00 Workshops
Workshop 1: Regulation & Certification
Workshop 2: Observation & Evaluation
Workshop 3: E-Voting - Where are we heading?

18:30 Conference Dinner & Best Paper Ceremony

Saturday, 9th August

Session 7: Technological Issues of E-Voting
Chair: Rüdiger Grimm

09:00 Code Voting with Linkable Group Signatures
Jörg Helbach, Jörg Schwenk, Sven Schäge

09:45 CAPTCHA-based Code Voting
Rolf Oppliger, Jörg Schwenk, Christoph Löhr

Session 8: Political Issues of E-Voting
Chair: Jordi Barrat

11:00 E-Voting in Brazil – Reinforcing Institutions While Diminishing Citizenship
José Rodrigues Filho

11:45 The Voting Processes in Digital Participative Budget: A Case Study
Cristiano Maciel, Gleison Pereira de Souza

12:30 Closing Remarks by Robert Krimmer

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CCPS, International

After a long summer break and the departure of Brian Schaffner to U-Mass and, we are relaunching the CCPS blog with an international tour, starting with the publication in today's Financial Times of an op-ed piece by Professor James Thurber, the founder and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

Tomorrow, I will be live blogging from the International Electronic Voting Conference in Austria, and I will explain why this important for American elections and how it relates to our research agenda at CCPS.

Democrats can cash in on public anger at Congress

By James Thurber

Financial Times -

Published: August 5 2008 19:22 | Last updated: August 5 2008 19:22

Public confidence in the US Congress is at a historic low, with 12 per cent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll expressing confidence in the legislature. It is the worst rating Gallup has found for any institution in the 35-year history of this question. Will the low approval have an impact on the November elections?

Voters accuse Congress of fostering a crippling partisanship that has led to inertia, overspending, failure to end the Iraq war or stand up to President George W. Bush and inattention to the needs of the American people. There is also anger at the continued scandals and unethical behaviour of members.

Public trust in Congress has been dismal since the early 1960s, but this new low has members of Congress worried about the 2008 election. Even so, there is usually a paradox in public attitudes: voters dislike the institution, but re-elect their members at high rates. Incumbents have been re-elected in the 90 per cent and above range for the past 30 years and there is little evidence that poor evaluations have had demonstrable effects on elections. Will this year be different?

What is the foundation for the dissatisfaction? Consider these factors, which have become more pronounced in recent years. The public clash of egos and bickering, combined with the complexity of the institution (more than 200 committees and subcommittees), the partisan stalemate and the overall messiness of Congress contrast with the immediate needs of the public. It is easy to stop policies, delay appropriations and slow down reforms but hard to move legislation. The primary functions of Congress are lawmaking (solving public problems), representation (of the public interest and constituency interests over specialised interests) and scrutiny of the executive branch. Congress is doing poorly on all accounts and Americans know it.

Will Democrats or Republicans be blamed for these failures? It is early, but a Democratic party wave is building in House races and significant gains may be made in the Senate. In a June Washington Post-ABC poll, 52 per cent of respondents said they would support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional race compared with 37 per cent who said they would vote Republican. Both presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, are running against Washington (and Congress) and calling for change in the way Washington works. Epiphanies are few in Congress: change comes from elections. There will be change in the election; it will be substantial and favour Democrats.

Several factors are at play. The number of safe Republican seats in the House has shifted dramatically towards Democratic challengers. With Democrats holding 236 seats and Republicans only 199, and only 20 seats competitive for the Democrats but 33 competitive races for the Republicans, Republicans have to be worried. Moreover, Democrats surprisingly won in three recent special elections that were solid Republican districts. The predicted gain for Democrats of 10 to 20 seats in the House brings them into a strong position to implement their policies in 2009.

Democrats are also benefiting from a historic surge of new voter registrations, an unprecedented financial edge and the recruitment of quality challengers. Democratic candidates are taking advantage of damage to the “Republican brand”, including the low ratings of the current president, continued Republican scandals (the latest being the indictment of Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska) and the retirement of moderate Republicans. These may be enough to dilute the power of incumbency that has thrived in the atmosphere of little or no competition.

In the Senate, Democrats have a chance to solidify their tentative majority. Currently the partisan split is 51-49 (with two independents voting with the Democrats). There are 10 competitive Senate seats (nine held by Republicans) that are too close to call, 13 solid or leaning-Republican seats and 12 solid or leaning-Democratic seats. A strong wave in favour of the Democrats will translate into more seats but it is not likely they will attain the 60 seats needed for a filibuster-proof Senate, which will leave continued deadlock.

This is shaping up to be the year that Americans’ negative view of Congress matters, and at least some members should be worried.

Coupled with the low public approval of Mr Bush, a bad economy and an un­popular war, the distrust and anger felt towards Congress as an institution is likely to be directed at and felt by the Republicans.

The writer is director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington