Chain of events

(עברית)


[November 2007]: The ministry of interior runs an electronic voting pilot, in parallel to paper voting, in some municipalities. The voters are asked about their voting experience and most voters react positively. However, a security examination performed by TEHILA (a subdivision within Israel's ministry of finance, whose original mandate was to develop Israel's government portal) reveals severe security problems that could lead to complete forgery of election results.
 
[November 2007-July 2008]: TEHILA develop their own electronic voting system, based on smart cards. The introduction of an electronic system for the Israeli election is an initiative of Mr. Meir Shitrit, Israel's minister of interior, who assigned to TEHILA the task of developing the new system. This decision was reached without any public debate or scrutiny by external and independent experts. Alon Rosen and Amnon Ta-Shma meet with TEHILA and the minister of Interior, warn them about the shortcomings of paperless voting, and suggest an open audit voting system that combines paper ballots and cryptograhic voting. The suggested protocol is a variant of a well known cryptographic voting protocol, and demonstrates how to achieve software independence in electonic voting systems.
 
[July 30, 2008]: TEHILA initiate an "open meeting" at the Technion, in which they invite representatives from Academia and Industry to provide feedback on the design of their electronic voting system. The Technion meeting was announced less than a week in advance. The presentation of the new voting system is not accompanied by any supporting technical documentation, and despite repeated requests before and after the Technion meeting, the technical details and specification of the system have not been made public yet. The meeting reveals severe security weaknesses in the TEHILA design. At the the end of the meeting almost all attendees strongly oppose the system. A video documenting the meeting was filmed by the TEHILA representatives.
 
[September 23, 2008]: Israel's ministry of interior submits a law proposal on the topic of 'electronic elections in local municipalities'. The proposal deals with the implementation of a new electronic, 'paperless', voting systems in several municipal elections that will take place in January 2009. The law proposal will be presented for approval to 'vea'dat sarim', and then to the 'Knesset'. All of this will be done in 'halich mezoraz' in order to enable the January 2009 election. The adressees of the law proposal were requested to reply with comments within 21 days. The majority of these 21 days overlapped with the 2008 Jewish Holidays.
 
The law proposal went unnoticed by the public. We didn't learn about it until after we sent out our letter on Oct 12th (see next item), and then were told about it by Dr. Michael Birnhack. The new voting system was developed without consulting external experts in areas such as Computer Security, Cryptography, Law, and the Social Sciences. The fundamental conceptual flaws that were pointed out in the Technion meeting are still present.
 
[October 12, 2008]: A group of academic researchers from the Technion, Haifa University, Ben Gurion University, the Weizmann institute, Tel Aviv University, and the Interdisciplinary Center send a letter expressing their objection to the system being developed by TEHILA, as presented in the Technion meeting.
 
[Now]: If you are not happy with the evolution of the above chain of events, and worried about possible massive forgeries in Israeli elections (ones that cannot be detected and hence are riskless for the forger) please sign the letter.