Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Assuring Your Vote Counts

PostedSeptember 14, 2008

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Randy Atkins: If you can track a package, why not your vote? That’s the concept of a newly-proposed system that uses the most common voting technology – optical scanners. Instead of using a regular pen to fill in a bubble next to your candidate’s name on a paper ballot, you mark it with a special decoder pen…sort of like in play spy kits.

David Chaum: It’s actually kind of fun to vote because you just use the highlighter pen and then the oval turns black but the secret letter codes are revealed in white.

Randy Atkins: David Chaum is the inventor of “Scantegrity.” He says you’d write down that unique, randomly-generated code on a receipt, turn in your ballot, then – when you get home – go to an election website, type in your ballot serial number, and your code should appear. No names are involved, so your vote remains private. Chaum says it’s also a great spot check.

David Chaum: It only takes a small fraction of voters to check that their votes were recorded correctly in order to verify the integrity of the whole election.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins,

103 point 5 F-M, WTOP Radio.

The system has already been used in private sector elections and will be tested in a local public election next year. To find out more about this story, go to and type in keyword “Engineering Innovation” or go to N-A-E – dot - E-D-U – slash – RADIO


  • Click here for a bio of David Chaum
  • Click here for David Chaum's wikipedia entry
  • Scantegrity's website