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californiavoter.png Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A voter fills out a ballot inside a polling station in San Anselmo, Calif., this month.

Microsoft Teams Up With Voting Machine Maker to Let Voters Track Ballots

The collaboration between the voting vendor and software giant aims to use technology to build transparency into the U.S. voting system, which came under assault last year.

(Bloomberg) -- Hart InterCivic Inc., one of the largest voting machine makers in the U.S., will incorporate Microsoft Corp.’s vote-tracking system into its in-person machines, adding a layer of security that may help reduce heightened attacks on the legitimacy of U.S. election results. The program will allow people to confirm their votes were counted after they’re cast.

The partnership makes Hart the first manufacturer in the U.S. to allow local voting jurisdictions to incorporate ballot-tracking software into machines, the companies said Thursday in a joint statement. The program will let voters track their choices and offer security experts using Hart’s system the opportunity to independently audit results using Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software.

The collaboration between the voting vendor and software giant aims to use technology to build transparency into the U.S. voting system, which came under assault last year. After former President Donald Trump repeatedly undermined public confidence in election results without evidence, a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress attempted to certify Americans’ votes.

“If we all know that our vote was counted, it gets pretty hard to believe these crazy conspiracy theories,” Tom Burt, Microsoft corporate vice president of customer security and trust, said in a statement.

Hart Chief Executive Officer Julie Mathis said the company is in the process of identifying voting venues to pilot the verifiability program. The Austin, Texas-based company plans to start by pairing ElectionGuard with its own Verity voting system, but it will be up to its customers in 500 jurisdictions across 17 states to ultimately adopt the program.

The technology would not change the process for voters. In most cases, voters would still fill out their ballots the same way they did in November 2020, either using a touchscreen or by hand-marking a ballot. Once they submit their ballots, voters will receive a piece of paper with a verification or QR code, which they can input into their local election jurisdiction’s website to track their ballot through the tabulation process.

The process is done without revealing the content of the voter’s ballot while maintaining the privacy and secrecy of their selections, according to the statement. The system will also allow third-parties, including political parties or news organizations, to write their own programs to confirm election tallies.

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