The Beautiful Magic of Cryptography

An election just wrapped up a few hours hours ago [public radio, le soir, RTL info]. The encrypted votes are stored in a redundant database, tied to each voter’s identifier, signed by the voting system, and available to all election participants for auditing. Each voter has a receipt of their encrypted vote they can compare to this database. In other words, the list of cast ballots is frozen, everyone can see it, and attempts to tamper with that list of cast ballots are detectable.

And yet, no one knows the results. Not me, the creator of the system. Not the team in Belgium who implemented, deployed the system, and oversaw the generation the cryptographic keys. We all have access to the raw data, but until the trustees arrive in a few days to jointly decrypt the tally, we won’t know the result.

The result is there, embedded in the numbers, we just can’t see it yet.

Isn’t cryptography magically beautiful?

UPDATE: The Harvard Press Release.

UPDATE 2: The UCL Press Release.

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