Trust Through Explainability in Verifiable Online Voting Systems

Project Description

Since the beginning of the pandemic, online voting systems have been increasingly discussed and used in secret elections and polls. On the one hand, the question is raised as to the technical and organizational trustworthiness of the systems used (i.e., how the security of these systems is assessed in the course of an evaluation of their properties) and, on the other hand, as to how the voters’ trust in these systems (and ultimately the outcome) is influenced and what role explainability plays in this context (i.e., to what extent voters understand the functionality and/or properties). To this end, we will analyze the academic literature and, where appropriate, political-medial discourse in the following contexts:

  1. studies on voter trust in online elections;
  2. statements on trustworthiness in the security context (properties/assumptions as well as methods, e.g., cryptographic proofs, formal methods, user studies) in general, but especially in the context of online elections;
  3. relationship between different forms of explainability and trust in systems;
  4. current discussions and approaches to the conceptualization of trust with regard to institutions, actors, citizens, and technology as a category also for the design and governance of technology fields, here using the example of online elections.

The goals of this project are a networking of the two topics Engineering Secure Systems and Knowledge for Action in the Helmholtz program Engineering Digital Futures (within the research field information) as well as an impulse for special research questions in the context of technical-organizational trustworthiness and influences on trust in online voting systems, particularly concerning the role of explainability.



Name Title Phone Email Institution
Melanie Volkamer Prof. Dr. +49 721 608-45045 melanie.volkamer397400539Xfd4∂ AIFB
Bernhard Beckert Prof. Dr. +49 721 608-44025 beckert416709050Xfd4∂ KASTEL
Linda Nierling Dr. +49 721 608-22509 linda.nierling907958472Xfd4∂ ITAS


Name Title Phone Email Institution
Reinhard Heil M.A. +49 721 608-26815 reinhard.heil1794012601Xfd4∂ ITAS
Michael Kirsten Dr. +49 721 608-45648 kirsten1278623077Xfd4∂ KASTEL
Jascha Bareis M.A. +49 721 608-24616 jascha.bareis1469318135Xfd4∂ ITAS


Name Title Phone Email Institution
Armin Grunwald Prof. Dr. +49 721 608-22500 armin.grunwald1568878856Xfd4∂ ITAS
Torsten Fleischer Dipl.-Phys. +49 721 608-24571 torsten.fleischer1842240434Xfd4∂ ITAS


Title Speaker Date
Kick-Off Meeting for the Launch of the Project Project members and investigators March 09, 2022
Talk on Usability and Security of Verifiable Online-Voting Systems Prof. Dr. Melanie Volkamer April 27, 2022
Talk on Formal Verification of Voting Systems Dr. Michael Kirsten May 11, 2022
Talk on the Sociotechnical Construction of Trust (and Distrust) in Internet Voting Prof. Ph.D. David Dueñas-Cid May 25, 2022
Talk on Trust Reinhard Heil June 01, 2022
Talk on Explanations and Explainability Reinhard Heil June 29, 2022
Project Workshop with International Participation Project members, investigators, and guest Prof. Dr. Oksana Kulyk July 15, 2022
Civil Dialogue on Online Elections: Blessing or Curse for Democracy?
Tage der Demokratie 2022
Dr. Michael Kirsten, Jascha Bareis, and Reinhard Heil September 15/16, 2022


Michael Kirsten, Melanie Volkamer, and Bernhard Beckert
Why is Online Voting Still Largely a Black Box?
First International Workshop on Election Infrastructure Security (EIS 2022) in conjunction with ESORICS 2022: European Symposium on Research in Computer Security

as networking and impulse project of the Helmholtz program Engineering Digital Futures – for networking between the topics and as impulse for special research questions.