Today, we ran the first campus trial of a new e-voting system called DRE-ip. The DRE-ip system was initially published at ESORICS’16 (paper here), and since then we have been busy developing a prototype. In our current implementation, the front end of the prototype consists of a touch-screen tablet (Google Pixel C), linked via Bluetooth to a thermal printer (EPSON TM-P80). The backend is a web server hosted in the campus of Newcastle University.
The e-voting trial was conducted in front of the Students Union from 11:00 am to 2 pm. We managed to get nearly 60 people to try our prototype and fill in a questionnaire. All users provided us useful and constructive feedback (which will take us a while to analyze in full detail). The general reception of our prototype has been very positive. The prototype worked robustly during the 3-4 hours trial. Apart from the occasional slight delay in printing a receipt from the thermal printer, the system worked reliably without any problem. This is the first time that we put our theoretical design of an e-voting system into the practical test, and we are glad that it worked well to our expectation on the first trial.
During the trial, we asked the user to choose a candidate from the following choices: Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Tim Farron, None of above . The tallying results are a bit surprising: Jeremy Corbyn won the most popular votes! However, the voting question we used in our trial was meant to be a lighthearted choice. Our main aim was to test the reliability and usability of the prototype and to identify areas for improvements. Many users understood that. Today’s trial was greatly helped by the nice weather, which is not that usual in Newcastle. Everyone from the project team tried their best. It was a great teamwork, and it was great fun. When we finished the trial, it was already past 2:00 pm. A relaxed lunch with beer and celebration drinks in our favorite Red Mezze restaurant is well deserved (which I should foresee no problem in justifying to the ERC project sponsor).
We plan to analyze and publish today’s trial results in the near future. Keep tuned.