Vote of Sea personnel

Today’s technology can contribute towards the creation of a better, more participative society and a higher level of integration in all aspects. Thanks to it, democracy can be strengthened through a greater ease in managing the electoral process. In the same way it allows the creation of systems that facilitate the inclusion of all citizens to access these processes, whatever their physical or geographical situation at the time of its holdingIn this line of work, Gradiant has recently completed a feasibility study of an electronic voting system for sailors at sea, funded by the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Environment, commissioned by the House of Commons.

Although the postal voting system is available for the displaced during the election period, there are cases that cannot be applied. One of them is precisely the vote of fishermen at sea, which may spend several months aboard ship. It is quite possible that these voters leave the country before the start of the deadline for submitting your absentee ballot, and return past the election date.

Although the legislation provides mechanisms for indirect delivery of the documentation necessary for the personnel on board to participate in elections, through its remission in a port of call or indirect delivery via another vessel within the time allowed. Its use is limited to cases where it is known beforehand that the vessel will reach ports in their territory, from which voters can send their votes by mail.

To solve this contingency, Gradiant has proposed a remote electronic voting system for the personnel on board that allows the vote to be carried out even on the same Election Day. This system will send the results of a remote ballot box by means of a connection of data, via satellite or through another access technology that is considered appropriate depending on the case. For this, the use of data links promoted by the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine has been studied.

It should be noted that the application environment is not the same as the onsite physical vote, not easily replaced in terms of user confidence and transparency, but the vote of the citizenry that is onboard Navy ships, the merchant Navy or the National Fishing fleet, setting in which the security measures provided by law are even more lax than with the vote by mail. It is in this sort of environment where a properly designed remote e-voting system could be a qualitative edge on the more traditional methods by overcoming the handicaps of the latter in terms of voter identification. This system may also serve as a starting point to promote the modernization of existing mechanisms to vote in our country, which at present are completely manual. In this regard, recent proposals allow the automation of the votes counting process at polling stations, preventing errors and facilitating the work o the members of the committees such as the Electronically Administered College1.

With regard to electronic voting systems, the establishment of which form part of the modernization objectives considered by the European Union, published by the European Council and has been adopted by the Committee of Ministers, on 30 September 2004, at its 898th session the Recommendation (2004) 11), for which it invites the state members to promote electronic voting in safe and reliable conditions, establishing the legal, procedural and technical aspects of it.

Some major weaknesses that are blamed on remote voting systems across the Internet [3] lie in the use of hardware and general purpose software (specifically, the user’s own PC) as elements of access to a voting platform. This environment is very difficult to protect against external attacks for two main reasons: the first is due to the possibility that malicious code (malware) is installed on the voting machine, giving an attacker control over their actions or private information. The second is the lack of control over the device from which remote voting is done, which prevents a proper audit both before and after use which offers good security for the electoral process.

The system designed by Gradiant does not have these weaknesses thanks to the use of specific hardware that avoids the possibility of implementing malware or modification of the software loaded on the device, while enabling security audits before and after use. It operates advanced cryptographic techniques to add a high level of security and transparency to the voting process for the personnel on board, avoiding the problems of authentication and also solving the problem of document delivery.