Vanessa Teague's Home Page

I am a Research Fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at at The University of Melbourne.

My main research interest is in electronic voting, with a focus on cryptographic schemes for end-to-end verifiable elections. Most of the main ideas are contained in my most recent Seminar on e-voting

I did my Bachelor's Degree (BSc hons) at The University of Melbourne and my Ph.D. with Prof. John Mitchell at Stanford University. I wrote my thesis on combining ideas from cryptography and game theory in order to understand distributed computations with selfish participants.

If you would like to contact me, please send me email so we can arrange a time for a discussion.

My email address is vjteague [at] unimelb [dot] edu [dot] au.

My office is 9.18 in the Doug McDonell building. Phone +61 3 8344 1274. Here is a useful map.



Publications

See my Google Scholar page

Research projects: Electronic voting for Australia

Electronic voting could be more secure and transparent than paper-based voting, because recent advances in cryptography allow voters to verify that their vote is cast as they intended, included in the count, and tallied correctly, without compromising privacy. Computers could also prevent people from accidentally voting informally and produce almost-instant Senate results. However, international research generally overlooks complex voting systems like Australia's, so Australian electoral authorities have had to resort to software systems that are not verifiable, and hence not trustworthy. The aim of our research agenda is to design a secure and verifiable system suitable for Australian elections.

The most significant product so far is a design for an end-to-end verifiable voting system expected to be used in state elections here in Victoria. See the vVote Tech Report. This is joint work with an international team including Steve Schneider'sTrustworthy voting systems group at Surrey. and Peter Ryan's Secure, reliable and trustworthy voting systems project at Luxembourg.

I have some space to take on PhD students in areas related to electronic voting, and am happy to discuss possible projects in broader areas of cryptography or electronic security and privacy. Please email me your academic transcript and a breif summary of what you are interested in working on. I also have specific funding available for particular projects. The size and focus of the project could be tailored to suit the students' interests and aptitudes.

Quantifying Information leakage from vote tallying

Australia's complex electoral system allows voters to express their political preferences in great detail. Unfortunately, the very wide variety of voting options can threaten privacy. If your vote is the only vote with a particular sequence of preferences, or if someone demands that you write a certain sequence of preferences, then that might expose how you voted. Votes must be tallied in a publicly verifiable way, but without revealing how individuals voted. There is some research on privacy-preserving verifiable STV tallying, but no rigorous theory of how much information leakage is acceptable. The aim of this project is to derive a quantitative theory of information flow as applied to privacy-preserving vote tallying. This would allow us to understand how to prove who deserves a Senate seat without allowing voters to be coerced.

This project includes a stipend funded under ARC DPDP140101119, which is a joint project with Annabelle McIver at Macquarie and Carroll Morgan at UNSW. It would be appropriate for a PhD student with a mathematical background.

Computing the margin of victory in STV elections

Co-supervised with Peter Stuckey

Australia's preferential voting system has the advantage that with only a single election a winner (or multiple winners) can be determined. But given that votes can be lost or miscounted it is interesting to know how many votes would need to be changed to modify the result of an election. This is a challenging combinatorial problem. While some approaches are known for the single electorate case, the current technology to solve this problem does not scale well. And we are unaware of any modelling of the case for multi-position preferential voting (the Australian Senate). The aim of this project is to develop algorithms and software to determine how many votes would be need to modified to change the results of a preferential election. We have some preliminary results for the single-seat case based on a prior master's student's work.

Expected background: Discrete maths, Data structures and algorithms. This is appropriate for a master's student with a programming background.

Students (past and current)

Tom Coleman

Amy Corman

Kim Ramchen

Quynh-Chi Nguyen

Ron Tidhar

Other Writing

Parliamentary submissions and hearings

I have written several opinion pieces about electronic voting in Australia, many under the auspices of The Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia (CORE), most recently with Rajeev Goré at ANU. In these we have tried to explain why electronic voting might be susceptible to accidental error or deliberate manipulation, and what does, or doesn't, constitute a verifiably correct election outcome.

To the Federal Parliament's Inquiry into the 2013 Federal Election: [Submission 114]. [Transcript of the hearing].

To the Federal Parliament's Inquiry into the 2010 Federal Election: [Submission 101] and [Submission 101.1] [Transcript of the hearing].

To their inquiry into the 2007 Federal Election: [Submission 1] [Supplementary Submission 1] [Supplementary Submission 2] [Transcript of the hearing.]

To the Victorian Parliament's Inquiry into the future of Victoria's electoral administration: [Submission 14] [Transcript of the hearing].

To the Victorian Parliament's Inquiry into the 2010 State Election: [Submission 13], [Transcript of the hearing].

To their inquiry into the functions and administration of voting centres: Submission 12.

To their inquiry into voter participation and informal voting: Submission 10.

To their inquiry into the 2006 State Election: Submission 1

To the NSW Parliament's Inquiry into 2012 local elections: Submission 36.

and to their Inquiry into the administration of the 2011 state election: Submission 7, with a supplementary submission with some discussion of e-voting source code confidentiality. Transcript of the hearing.

Some of this was quoted in the committees' final reports.

In the media

I've also tried to explain the same thing to a more general audience, in Electionwatch (on Australian online voting), Indian election technology and The conversation (on US election technology).

Conferences and boards

In 2013 I was co-chair with Steve Schneider and James Heather of Vote ID 2013.

In 2011 I was co-chair with Hovav Shacham of the USENIX/ACCURATE Electronic Voting Technologies workshop and Workshop on Trustworthy Elections, EVT/WOTE 2011, co-located with USENIX Security '11.

I am on the editorial board of the USENIX Journal of Election Technology and Systems.

I was also on the PC for, RSA-Cryptographers' track '14, RSA-Cryptographers' track '15, EVOTE '14, Vote-ID 2011, Re-Vote 2011, and other years of EVT/WOTE.

I am on the board of advisors of The Verified Voting Foundation and the advisory council of the Overseas Vote Foundation's End-to-end verifiable Internet voting project.