Nebraska Patent of the Month – June 2021

During elections, the voting process typically involves registering to vote beforehand. However, if you haven’t registered for any reason or go to the wrong poll location, they provide a provisional ballot. You are then able to cast your vote, but they take your information to verify your eligibility before your vote is officially confirmed. Typically this verification process involves a system where the voter and provisional ballot are identified with a code. Once the voter’s eligibility is confirmed, they pull the identification code up and mark the vote as valid. Of course, across the world, there are many methods for processing these provisional ballots. The key issue with these systems is finding a way to protect the anonymity of these votes. Election Systems & Software, LLC has designed a new system which aims to better preserve this anonymity.

Their system allows a paper-based or hybrid voting system to immediately include ballots in results. They can then be validated and officially included after. The ballots are printed with a machine readable ID that is associated with a unique voter code and which can be scanned by the voting system. Once scanned, the ballot is stored as a cast vote record (CVR) in the results database. This is where anonymity gets difficult. If the unique voter code and the CVR are directly linked, then any election poll worker could view the CVR and see who the voter is. So this system uses an indirect association between the voter code and the CVR in the form of the machine readable ID on the ballot. This ID is an encrypted or obfuscated voter code. So a ballot has an encrypted version of the voter code, which can pull up the correct CVR without ever identifying the voter. This means, after verifying or denying eligibility, the CVR can be pulled and either confirmed or removed from poll results without compromising the voter’s identity.

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