George Washington U. International Students Demonstrate New Voting System

This story was written by Gabriella Schwarz, The GW Hatchet


President-elect Barack Obama won a decisive victory among a mock electorate of international students who tested a new voting system that uses invisible ink at George Washington University Tuesday.

One hundred and eighty-seven people voted in the election, in which only foreign-born students were allowed to participate. Of those students, 149 voted for Obama, 26 cast ballots for Sen. John McCain and 11 voted for third-party candidates.

Stefan Popoveniuc, a fifth-year doctoral student in computer studies, helped craft the new "end-to-end verifiable voting system" called "Scantegrity II," which he hopes will preserve privacy in the voting process. Inventor David Chaum originally created the system, which is being tested at a variety of schools.

"I don't have a right to vote in the election, but I can contribute to improving the voting method," said Popoveniuc, a native of Romania. "We're asking, if you had the right to vote, how would you vote? It's a new possibility for international students."

As part of the new system, each voter was given a ballot with a receipt attached.

Invisible ink is used to mark the ballots, causing a code to appear after the voter marks the bubble next to their choice. The codes are then written down on the receipt, which the voter keeps.

Results can be checked online using the voter's confirmation number, ensuring each vote is cast correctly and confidentially. If there are problems in the system, the receipt can be presented to election officials.

Popoveniuc, who implemented the system at GW, will analyze the data to determine how to improve the system for use in "public sector elections." After he reviews the number of students who checked the results online, he will be able to gauge the success of the process.
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