Palm Beach County, Fla., election workers check ballots during a recount for the U.S. Senate race at the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office in Riviera, Fla., on November 16, 2018. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
July 18 (UPI) -- Software giant Microsoft has unveiled new technology it says will upgrade security in U.S. voting machines, and ensure all ballots are counted and authentic.
Microsoft unveiled the innovative ElectionGuard software Wednesday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Developers said the software uses tracking codes, encryption and third-party apps that protect identities and voter choices. It's designed as an end-to-end verification process for voting that guards against hacking and other potential intrusions.
"The majority of nation-state activity in this period originated from actors in three countries -- Iran, North Korea and Russia," said Tom Burt, Microsoft vice president of customer security and trust. "In some instances, those attacks appear to be related to ongoing efforts to attack the democratic process."
Voters using the system are given a tracking code to confirm their vote. Third parties, including news media, will have access to encrypted votes to ensure they were counted.
The program is part of Microsoft's Defending Democracy Program.
The software maker said it has observed an increase in cyberattacks against think tanks, political parties and other electoral organizations -- as recently as the 2016 U.S. election and the French election a year later. States and federal lawmakers have pushed for better election security since it was learned the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 vote.
"As we had into the 2020 elections ... we anticipate that we will see attacks targeting U.S. election systems, political campaigns or non-governmental organizations that work closely with campaigns," Burt added.
Microsoft said ElectionGuard will be available at no cost and open sourced through GitHub this summer.
Burt said Microsoft plans to offer the technology to the manufacturers of more than half of the voting systems presently used in the United States.