Can People Tell How Secure Their Voting Ballot Really Is?

Image result for voting ballot

With the election recount coming up in just a matter of days, many people are wondering just how secure the security systems placed to protect the ballets are. Surprisingly, after a recent study, it was found that people have good sense on finding this out for themselves.

Rice University performed a study just a few weeks ago in order to find out just how conscious people are of the level of security on their voting ballot. The study was conducted with 90 voters in a mock election, where the researchers created three levels of a security system; a standard paper ballot (the least secure), a paper ballot that included fake security features, giving an impression of a secure ballot (no more secure than the standard ballot), and a paper ballot with enhanced security mechanisms (one of the most secure methods).

After the voting, the people were asked to take a survey including questions about the security of the voting system they used so that the researchers could see if one system seemed more secure than the others. To their surprise, the majority of the participants found the system with enhanced security mechanisms to be the most secure, and were not fooled by the systems with fake security aspects.

“Claudia Ziegler Acemyan, a postdoctoral research fellow in psychology at Rice and the study’s lead author, said positive perception of voting security is important.”

“‘When U.S. voters complete their ballot, they are providing confidential information in the form of their candidate or proposition selections, which may — or may not — align with the majority of voters’ beliefs and/or how other people want them to vote,'” she said. “‘Accordingly, voters must trust the system to keep their votes anonymous and not record any type of identifying information that could link them to their ballots.'”

“‘If voters suspect any type of security flaws, then they might not see the point in participating in an election,'” she said. “‘This results in disenfranchisement, potentially impacted election results and possibly an overall lack of confidence in the resulting government and policies.'”

Acemyan said that more secure methods of voting — such as STAR-Vote and Prêt à Voter, the enhanced security system used in this study — are designed while keeping in mind that potential attacks are always possible. She says, ” ‘These systems are designed to minimize malicious tampering and make the voting process as transparent as possible so that if these attacks occur, they can be recognized immediately.'”

“Ultimately, Acemyan said she finds the results very encouraging and hopes the study will inspire further research of secure methods of voting and eventually, widespread implementation.”

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