RIPE NCC embraces full end-to-end verifiability to support their General Meeting and NRO NC Voting Events using Assembly Voting.
The RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) is an independent, not-for-profit membership association which supports the infrastructure of the internet through technical coordination in their specified region. One of five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) globally, they are tasked with providing global internet resources and related services to members in their service region, an area which includes Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
In October 2022, RIPE NCC sought to hold a series of votes for both their General Meeting (GM) and RIPE Number Resource Organisation Number Council (NRO NC) election. Ballots for these events would cover the election of a council member and member votes on four individual resolutions. The voting period, lasting for several days, would culminate in the RIPE 85 Meeting in Serbia from the 24th through the 28th of October. Over 2400 members would be eligible to register to vote for the GM and RIPE Meeting.
Whilst RIPE NCC had used online voting for previous events, a review of the security, auditability, and verifiability requirements of the prior technology necessitated an exploration of other potential partners. In June, RIPE NCC began their search into finding a new technology and partner to work with them for both their upcoming and future events.
As the Secretariat for the RIPE community, RIPE NCC is a trusted steward of the open, inclusive, collaborative Internet model, one focused on engaging and connecting people within as well as across communities. From the outset, RIPE NCC was clear that any technology chosen would need to meet the strict standards demanded by the Secretariat and their voting members, commonly consisting of CTOs, CISOs, and Chief Legal Officers from across their region.
Assembly Voting AVX Platform
The Assembly Voting AVX voting platform is built on the principle of end-to-end verifiability, meaning that observers are able to check and confirm the integrity of the voting process while it is occurring and following its closure. In an end-to-end verifiable voting system, both auditors and voters can confirm that votes were cast as intended, received as cast, and counted as received. Additionally, even while observers can confirm the accuracy of each step in the voting process, individual voters’ identities remain anonymous and their ballot markings secret.
RIPE NCC concluded that the core principles embodied by the AVX platform were an excellent fit to their requirements. They decided to use all aspects of the functionality available to them in the AVX platform, including features such as distributed trustee open and closing ceremonies, voter verification, voter receipt options, and a public bulletin board.
Setting up a new voting platform for a group of highly experienced technical and legal experts required a thorough implementation programme, which included multiple rounds of testing and a close working partnership. Since AVX places an emphasis on the authentication of voters while protecting individual privacy and anonymity, a two-factor authentication method was introduced to voting members. Assembly Voting worked with RIPE NCC to help create clear guidance for voting members for them to understand not only how to access their ballots, but also how to make full use of the voter verification functions available to them.
The voting was carried out seamlessly, with voters able to receive their credentials and access the voting site in a timely manner. Combined support, provided by the RIPE NCC Elections team and Assembly Voting Customer Success team, meant that any voter support queries could be dealt with expediently and effectively.
When the voting periods closed, the remotely located trustees of the election joined an online closing ceremony, thus fulfilling their important role in mixing and decrypting the ballots to produce the auditable results.
Feedback from voters was extremely positive, as they recognised the great strides taken with the introduction of end-to-end verifiability into the voting process. One of the resolutions on which members were asked to vote was a decision as to whether the current paper-based voting option should be removed from RIPE NCC’s election rules moving forward. This resolution received an overwhelming majority, with members enjoying the benefits and flexibility offered by online voting. Valuable feedback from the RIPE NCC voting members will form part of the ongoing partnership and solution development between RIPE NCC and Assembly Voting.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with our collaboration with Assembly Voting on the votes that we held for our members and community in October 2022. We needed to find a reliable provider for our electronic voting needs in a short space of time, and Assembly Voting were able to meet all our needs and provide an excellent level of support while doing so. We’re very much looking forward to continuing with Assembly Voting as our electronic voting provider for years to come.”
Head of Membership Engagement, Ripe NCC
- 2 election events held over the course of 4 days in total
- Individual election timetables for each election
- Opening and subsequent Closing ceremonies which included Election Trustees split across RIPE NCC, Assembly Voting, and third-party auditors
- An election for a single board seat (NRO NC) and voting on 4 separate resolutions (GM)
- Encryption of RIPE NCC “Registration number” to support End-to-End verifiability
- Communication with voters via email, with RIPE NCC sending out “Registration number” and Assembly Voting sending out the “Election code” to voters
- Documentation and activation of the End-to-End features “Cast as intended” and “Registered as cast”
- The elections represented both traditional voters and proxy voters