Microsoft to offer free software tools for securing elections

Microsoft on Monday said it will soon offer free software to help make voting more secure in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The ElectionGuard tool, which will be available this summer to election officials and election technology suppliers through GitHub, aims to build voting systems with enhanced security through new encryption techniques. The program would also enable election audits and let both voters and third-party organizations verify the results.

Microsoft said “early prototypes” will be ready for pilot programs during the 2020 elections in the U.S. The tech giant added that it is prepared for “significant deployments” of the tool in future elections.

Microsoft is partnering with election tech companies — Democracy Live, BPro, MicroVote, Voting Works, Election Systems & Software and Hart InterCivic — to integrate the ElectionGuard tool into their systems.

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The software is not meant to replace paper ballots, Microsoft said, nor is it intended to support internet voting; instead, it is “a new tool for use by the existing election community and government entities that run elections.”

Election security has come under renewed scrutiny following the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE‘s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. There are also heightened concerns that many election systems are vulnerable to hacking heading into 2020.

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