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“Just for the Sake of Transparency”: Exploring Voter Mental Models of Verifiability

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNSC,volume 12900)

Abstract

Verifiable voting schemes allow voters to verify their individual votes and the election outcome. The voting protocol Selene offers verification of plaintext votes while preserving privacy. Misconceptions of verification mechanisms might result in voters mistrust of the system or abstaining from using it. In this paper, we interviewed 24 participants and invited them to illustrate their mental models of Selene. The drawings demonstrated different levels of sophistication and four mental models: 1) technology understanding, 2) meaning of the verification phase, 3) security concerns, and 4) unnecessary steps. We highlight the misconceptions expressed regarding Internet voting technologies and the system design. Based on our findings, we conclude with recommendations for future implementations of Selene as well as for the design of Internet voting systems in general.

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Fig. 1.

Notes

  1. 1.

    A full cryptographic description of the protocol can be found in [26].

  2. 2.

    In Germany, where the study was conducted, this is the standard time frame between the end of the voting phase and the announcement of the outcome.

  3. 3.

    The emphasis was placed on the individual check of the tracking number. We did not explicitly ask the participants to recount the votes for universal verifiability.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), under the joint INTER project SeVoTe (INTER/FNRS/15/11106658/SeVoTe) as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – 251805230/GRK 2050.

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Zollinger, ML., Estaji, E., Ryan, P.Y.A., Marky, K. (2021). “Just for the Sake of Transparency”: Exploring Voter Mental Models of Verifiability. In: , et al. Electronic Voting. E-Vote-ID 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12900. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86942-7_11

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