A voting technology designed to build public trust in elections
Sequent’s core technology utilizes advanced cryptographic schemes and algorithms to bridge the gap between confidential voting and verifiable election results. With this unique technology, each voter can track and verify that their ballot is cast, recorded and counted correctly. Election observers can verify that all ballots are counted correctly in the final tally while preserving voters’ privacy. Together, these properties qualify the system as an end-to-end verifiable voting system.
Verifiable election technology is a necessary condition in ensuring election integrity, but in itself is insufficient to merit the public’s trust. This is why Sequent’s election technology was developed with complete transparency, using an open-source approach, that allows anyone, and most importantly academic researchers and security experts, to review and vet the system, thus increasing public trust in the voting technology and elections.
Sequent is committed to setting the highest standards and leading the practical implementation of the latest research and development in the election space. To this end, Sequent collaborates closely with academic researchers, is in constant dialogue with election administrators from different organizations, and works with the open-source community to ensure its platform is available for anyone to use.
Sequent Technological Principles
Secure Online Voting
Any computer system faces threats such as hacking, intrusion, data manipulation and distribution – an online voting system is no different. However, maintaining voter privacy and election integrity is even more critical in voting systems, as in most cases, there is no 2nd chance in elections. Sequent simultaneously addresses these two objectives by implementing the latest cyber security best practices throughout our product development and a “battle-tested” cryptographic secure voting scheme. This combination makes the system robust with respect to malicious adversaries that wish to compromise election integrity, voter privacy, and election availability. The threat model built into the Sequent architecture considers even internal operators of the system as possible adversaries, resulting in a distribution of trust for critical components in terms of both privacy and integrity. Moreover, the pervasive use of digital signatures, conferring message authenticity and integrity, follows the zero-trust architecture paradigm.
The property of end-to-end verifiability has become the gold standard for modern electronic voting systems, including those used in online voting. It is increasingly common for election officials, election organizers, and the general public to demand end-to-end verifiability as a must-have prerequisite for conducting elections electronically.
Although the verifiability of a voting system is directly related to integrity, it is in fact a far stronger property. Not only must the system operate correctly and election results must be fair, but it must be possible for participants and external observers to certify this unequivocally. This is a consequence of the central theme of evidence-based elections: an election must produce a result, but also evidence that said result is fair and correct.
The property of end-to-end verifiability is satisfied when a voter can verify that:
Sequent achieves end-to-end verifiability by leveraging advanced cryptography, providing verifiable evidence of the integrity of the vote and the election results. This evidence is published for each election and is available for anyone to check using independent auditing tools. Additionally, stakeholders involved in each specific election are tasked with running these verification procedures and reporting any deviations.
Our employed cryptographic primitives are specialized for the election use case and are well tested over multiple implementations.
Voting technology and systems are an essential infrastructure of every democratic country and are the foundation of the most sensitive government-citizen engagement. Thus these systems and technologies should be widely trusted by the public to capture their voice correctly. Transparent open-source development of voting technology is the cornerstone of building this public trust by allowing anyone to individually review and ensure the system operates as intended.
Sequent voting technology was developed in an open-source manner to provide its customers, partners, academic researchers, security experts and the general public with full transparency into how the system operates and to move away from the outdated “black box” system approach.
Moreover, open-source development within Github allows for faster and richer feedback loops between the project contributors worldwide. Not only is this a catalyst for a faster pace of development, but it also presents opportunities to identify issues much earlier in the development cycle and thus produce a higher code quality and a secure system.
Building our future voting technology is necessarily a global and joint effort. We invite researchers, security experts and partners to join Sequent’s mission, contribute to our codebase and use it in their own research and projects. Having a diverse and global collaborator community results in better platform security and increases the robustness of our solution.
The problem of online voting has been the subject of academic research for over 40 years. It is both a difficult and interesting problem due to the stringent requirements that must be met to reach the standards necessary for decision-making in a political context. Sequent works at the intersection of cutting-edge research and meaningful practical applications for customers who need to innovate whilst maintaining and improving the trust and transparency guarantees of existing procedures.
The main research themes that Sequent draws upon for its platform are centered around election verifiability, ballot privacy, and efficient approaches to achieve them with respect to the usability of voters, election administrators and third-party participants. All these, while addressing the compute requirements for large scale elections. The Sequent technology leverages verifiable re-encryption mixnets as its backbone, a technique that anonymizes encrypted ballots so that all parties can independently verify election integrity. This technology and its close variants are well established and have been deployed for national elections in countries like Switzerland, Norway, and Estonia.
In this context, Sequent is currently focused on specific, high-value challenges that exist in making end-to-end verifiable voting systems practical:
If you’re a researcher working on these or related challenges, we’d love to hear from you.
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