Microsoft logoSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

What you need to know

  • Microsoft kicked off its Defending Democracy Program in 2018.
  • As part of the program, it introduced its ElectionGuard technology.
  • That technology is about to be integrated into a U.S. voting system vendor's products for a pilot run.

Somehow, the simple act of casting a vote in an election has become the center of national headaches and outrage. Between a former U.S. president who claimed 2020's presidential election was rigged and lawmakers enacting voting policies that some claim are discriminatory in nature, the endless screaming over ballot casting has never been louder (if we ignore the centuries of debates over which demographics are allowed to vote and only pay attention to the last ten years). That's why Microsoft is working to make voting secure, efficient, accessible, and transparent.

In 2019, as part of its loftily titled Defending Democracy Program, Microsoft introduced ElectionGuard, software that the company claimed would enable "end-to-end verification of elections, open results to third-party organizations for secure validation, and allow individual voters to confirm their votes were correctly counted."

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Fast-forward to today. Microsoft has now announced its partnership with Hart InterCivic. Hart will integrate ElectionGuard into its products, which means that it'll be the first big U.S. voting system vendor to utilize Microsoft's election-minded software.

"The team at Hart has done exceptional work to combine the benefits of a paper ballot-based voting system with the best the ElectionGuard technology has to offer," said Microsoft's Tom Burt, corporate vice president of customer security and trust. "We're excited that voters will be able to experience the confidence ElectionGuard can bring to the process while voting on machines from a company that has been supporting elections for more than a century."

ElectionGuard being instated in standard polling stations for, say, a U.S. presidential election is still a long way off, given that it's been two years since the software's announcement and it's only now entering the pilot phase. The road to anything being officially injected into U.S. voting procedures usually isn't a quick one, so it may be a while before Microsoft's efforts bear fruit. Still, it's getting closer to, in its own words, defending democracy.

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