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The ProVotE Project and Motivations

ProVotE [1]1, a project sponsored by Provincia Autonoma di Trento (PAT), has the goal of ensuring a smooth transition to e-voting in Trentino, eliminating risks of digital divide and providing technological solutions which support, with legal value, the phases ranging from voting to the publication of the elected candidates.

The project includes partners from the public administration (PAT, Regione Trentino/Alto-Adige, Consorzio dei Comuni Trentini, Comune di Trento, IPRASE), research centers and academia (Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), Faculty of Sociology of the University of Trento, Fondazione Graphitech), and local industries (Informatica Trentina) and is co-led by the Electoral Service of the Autonomous Province of Trento and by FBK-IRST. Project leadership by the Public Sector, in our opinion, among other advantages, helps tackling the issue of potential conflicts of interests by private industries; see e.g. [12]. The technological solution (both software and some hardware components) has been developed in house, providing integration with some commercial components.

The project is multi-phased and is organized in various lines of activities that strictly interact. For instance, in the first phase of the project, some functional and non-functional requirements of the e-voting prototype have been provided with a strict round-trip between the sociological and the technological line, with the normative line ensuring compatibility with the electoral laws. See [1,13] for more details and [14] for some considerations related to the sociological aspects of e-voting in Europe. Development proceeds incrementally, and each phase defines milestones to check the goals set in each different line.

The first phase had the goal of testing prototypes, evaluating acceptance by citizens, ease of use, and some organizational aspects. Verification of the results achieved in the first phase was conducted through four different trials (May 2005, November 2005, May 2006, November 2006) held during local elections. During the experimentation polling stations were equipped with one or more e-voting machines and citizens were asked to vote on paper, repeat their vote using the electronic systems, and provide feedback about the system to interviewers. About ten thousand citizens took part in the first phase of the project. (With the first experimentation having the lowest participation, due also to the fact that we had one e-voting machine per polling station. In subsequent experimentations we equipped most polling stations with two machines and got higher participation2).

During the second phase of the project we used the electronic systems in two elections, with legal value. The first election was the election of student representatives in a local high school and it involved 1,298 students. The second election -- conducted in the towns of Campolongo al Torre and Tapogliano in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (November 2007), a neighboring region with autonomy similar to that of PAT -- was a poll to unify the two municipalities; 561 people used the systems. In both cases, logistics, procedures, and laws governing the elections were relatively simple and can be considered a simplified version of the other kinds of elections we intend to use our systems for.

For the third phase of the project, which will lead to a large-scale introduction of the new voting system, aspects related to procedures, logistics, and organization become more relevant, as they will serve both as the basis for the deployment of the solution and for the definition of the laws that will govern the electronic election.

To our knowledge, little has been done in Italy to try and introduce e-voting. We are aware of one eletronic election, with legal value, in Valle d'Aosta, that it involved a small number of voters. The election remained an ``isolated'' case and little or no information is available on the matter. With respect to scope, population, and participation, ProVotE is among the largest, if not the largest, e-voting project in Italy.

komminist 2008-06-30