International Association for Cryptologic Research

Should the IACR use e-voting for its elections?

(Sept-27-2010): The final report of the eVoting Committee is now available.
(EC'10 & CR'10): The membership meeting adopted the following motion for Helios:
The IACR adopts the Helios remote e-voting system for future IACR elections (including 2010). At the same time, the IACR clearly publishes a statement that its use of this system does not constitute an endorsement of this or other remote-voting systems for public-sector elections.
(June-1-2010): A report that summarizes the election demo experiment is now available.

Since 2007, the IACR board has been debating a proposal to replace the current mail-based system that is used by the IACR for its internal elections with a cryptographic e-voting system:

  • At its August 2007 meeting the board established a subcommittee to further investigate this topic.
  • The committee submitted its report to the board before its April 2008 meeting.
  • At its April 2008 meeting, the board decided to invite presentations of open-source and freely available e-voting systems, and a call for presentations was subsequently published on the IACR web page.
  • The IACR board heard presentations about eight systems in August 2008. It again decided to establish a subcommittee to evaluate these presentations, and to produce a summary recommendation for the board, preferably of at most two systems that could be run in a trial election.
  • The committee came up with a list of requirements and evaluation criteria for these systems, but stopped short of recommending any of them.
  • At its April 2009 meeting, the board formed a smaller executive committee with the explicit task of recommending a candidate system to the board.
  • The executive committee (consisting of Josh Benaloh, Stuart Haber, and Shai Halevi) recommended to invite proponents of Punchscan and Helios to report on their systems at the August 2009 board meeting.
  • At its August 2009 meeting, the board heard from David Chaum and Ben Adida (presenting Puchscan and Helios, respectively), and decided to set up demo elections of these two systems for the entire IACR membership, as a vehicle to get more feedback before making a decision.

The 2010 IACR demo election

Since the Punchscan team declined to set up a live demo for the IACR membership, we currently have a demo election only for the Helios system. We invite the entire IACR membership to take part in this demo election off of this link and to send us their comments to For this demo elections, Josh Benaloh, Stuart Haber, and Shai Halevi play the role of the election committee (which means in particular that they are the three trustees whose secret keys will be used to decrypt the results at the end of the election).

The ballot questions in this demo election were chosen to provide the board also with a straw poll about several issues under discussion, having to do with the move to electronic voting and the IACR publication policy. We stress that this is only a straw poll and the results of this vote will NOT be interpreted as formal approval or rejection by the IACR membership.