DataTrails and Citizens Oversight Partnership Adds Verifiable Integrity and Transparency to Election Audits

Election offices can prove that the 2024 election data is unchanged with this integrity and transparency technology.

DataTrails, a California-based provenance and transparency software company, and Citizens Oversight, a California-based developer of the election auditing platform “AuditEngine”, have joined in a cooperative agreement to deploy the initial phase in comprehensive election data security for upcoming elections.

“With the integration of AuditEngine and DataTrails transparency services, modification or tampering of election data can be detected, including any changes to ballot images. AuditEngine can tabulate the election results based on this official data to independently audit the integrity of the election processes while being able to prove that data has not been changed since it was originally secured” said Raymond Lutz, Executive Director of Citizens Oversight and developer of AuditEngine ballot image auditing (BIA) solution. “It’s about time we secure our precious election data.

Securing Elections Through Immutable Audit Trails

Election offices can create cryptographic proofs of the ballot images, cast-vote records, and election results, and publish those cryptographic proofs on the DataTrails transparency service to prove and verify “Who, Did What, When”. These proofs and additional metadata about the provenance and authenticity of election ballots increases the security and integrity of election results and detects any changes to the original content.

Continually improving the election process is core to increasing trust in US elections. Being able to count and reliably audit each and every vote, while assuring the privacy of each voting citizen is the overall goal of our election system. Fortifying election data with strong provenance that can be independently verified and validated adds assurance and transparency into election audits.

In 2019, the nonprofit organization Citizens Oversight introduced AuditEngine, providing an independent tabulation by processing ballot images created when ballots are first scanned and comparing this tabulation with the official results. The system has been used by election officials, campaigns, candidates, and oversight groups to audit hand-marked and machine- marked paper ballots, and was recently piloted by the state of Maryland. Audits have been conducted in multiple other states including FL, GA, NJ, WI, and CA, and the AuditEngine technology can fully check every ballot (including QR Code ballots) by comparing the voter- verifiable text with the official results. Using the DataTrails platform, AuditEngine now includes irrefutable evidence proving the integrity of the results based on original ballots.

For the past 18 months, DataTrails and Citizens Oversight have been working with a community at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) on proposed Supply Chain, Integrity, Transparency, and Trust (SCITT) standards. SCITT aims to support the ongoing verification of goods and services where the authenticity of entities, evidence, policy, and artifacts can be assured and the actions of entities can be guaranteed to be authorized, non-repudiable, immutable, and auditable. Elections are another type of supply chain that needs the same integrity, transparency, and trust methods to prove and verify election data and election results.

“Partnering with Citizens Oversight on election audit integrity is a perfect fit for the transparency and provenance technology we’ve built. It is a natural extension of the registry services we provide that ensure the transparency and integrity of any digital content.” said Rusty Cumpston, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at DataTrails.

“This is the first step in a comprehensive plan at Citizens Oversight to prove the integrity ofballot images and provide irrefutable evidence indicating if ballots have been altered as each scanner will digitally sign every ballot image with its unforgeable digital keys” said Ray Lutz

About DataTrails

DataTrails provides immutable audit trail and data transparency services with an API-first platform available today. DataTrails assures the provenance and integrity of data in any multi-party scenario, including voting processes, supply chains, digital media, and responsible AI.
Rusty Cumpston

About Citizens Oversight

Citizens Oversight has been involved in election oversight since 2005. The AuditEngine cloud- based service can audit any election where ballot images are available, and better if corresponding official cast-vote records are available. and
Raymond Lutz