SIV Blog

Utah Forward Party - April Convention

David Ernst - May 13, 2024

The Utah branch of the new Forward Party hosted its first statewide convention on April 27, 2024, using Secure Internet Voting (SIV.org) to make decisions on state party priorities and nominate candidates for the general election.

The core voting requirements for democratic integrity were:

  1. Ensuring one person, one vote
  2. Providing verifiable results of correct outcomes
  3. Empowering voters with strong privacy

Authentication via QR Codes

Most voters participated in-person, while a few joined online. The online participants were authenticated by email.

For in-person voters, election administrators chose to give out unique Voter QR codes that could quickly be scanned with their phones throughout the day.

At a high-level, here's how the Convention QR codes function:


Each QR Code address remained stable for the voter throughout the Convention. The administrator set it to redirect to different ballots throughout the day, as each voting period began. This gave voters a single easy link for voting, the election administrator could flexibly enable multiple rounds of voting, all while maintaining One-Person-One-Vote authentication.

Custom subsets

One noteworthy requirement for this convention was that while most of the items to be voted upon were for all attendees, there were a few items meant only for a geographic subset of voters. These local subsets received distinct QR codes, which would point to both the general ballot items, as well as their private voting questions.

Challenges and Remediation

There were some slight challenges with the printed QR codes. A few people picked up the wrong QR code or lost theirs.

Fortunately, SIV has remediation options for such circumstances. Admins can easily and verifiably invalidate particular voter authentication tokens & issue new ones.


Privacy

For this votes, a moderate-level of privacy was chosen. The election admins knew which QR codes were given to every voter, but the vote selections were encrypted, with the SIV server holding the sole decryption key.

In this case, speed was preferred over the highest levels of privacy. But SIV provides the option for future elections to split the decryption key among many Privacy Protectors.

In addition, the SIV server did not know which QR codes corresponded to which voters. There was no single place to link voters with their vote selections.


Verifiable Results

When casting their votes, all voters' phones generated private Verification #s. Once the results were published, voters were able to check for themselves if their selections were received correctly and re-count the totals.


Voting Methods

One of the Forward Party's core principles is getting out of the lesser-of-two-evils limited options most Americans are faced with. So they were very excited about testing alternative voting methods that remove the Spoiler Effect so voters can have more honest options. Here are screenshots of their test ballot trying out different voting methods.

Starting with Choose-Only-One:

Approval Voting:

Ranked Choice Voting:

And Score Voting:


One Identified Bug

The results for one of the ballot questions was delayed by a half hour. This was due to a bug triggered by an approval voting question with more than ten items. Once identified, the issue was quickly fixed.

This never affected any votes themselves, just the display of the results. Once fixed, all voters could verify for themselves that their vote remained correct, thanks to the election's end-to-end verifiability.


Participation

908 votes were cast and tallied using SIV throughout the convention. All reports were very positive.


"I've been hearing nothing but good things from Utah"
— Steven, National Director of IT Operations and Strategy
"I heard no complaints about the voting, a lot of people thought it was very easy and secure."
— Adam, Local Election Administrator

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