Defending Democracy with Technology

Transparency is critical when it comes to trust – and right now, particularly in the United States, we’re having some real issues with trust in our elections. Most of our election systems today are completely opaque in terms of their hardware and software design because they’re made by private companies who want to protect their intellectual property. But this secrecy also seriously impedes independent third parties from being able to test and verify these devices that are crucial to our democracy, and therefore contributes to the distrust in our election outcomes. Microsoft is working to change this with a program called ElectionGuard – a free and open source software framework that would allow any company (existing or new) to create robust and secure election systems. Not only can security researchers, journalists and democracy activists review and test the code, but the system actually provides technical capabilities that would allow voters and watchdog groups with a secure and private method for verifying that all votes were counted correctly. And that’s just part of what Microsoft is doing to defend democratic processes as part of their Democracy Forward program.

Ethan Chumley is a Senior Security Strategist for Microsoft’s Democracy Forward Program, leading the team’s Critical Institution cybersecurity programs. He works at the intersection of cybersecurity, policy, and technology in support of open and secure elections by working with political campaigns, elections organizations, think tanks, NGOs, disinformation researchers, and tech industry partners.

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