Why Nominated: Joseph Kiniry is on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to defend America’s elections from malicious actors seeking to interfere with the democratic process. As principal scientist at Galois, and CEO and Chief Scientist of Free & Fair (a spin out of Galois), Kiniry is at the center of two major projects that seek to develop secure and transparent voting systems using open-source software.
Profile: Kiniry has nearly 20 years of experience in the design, development, support, and auditing of supervised and internet/remote electronic voting systems while he was a professor at various universities in Europe. He co-led the DemTech research group at the IT University of Copenhagen and has served as an adviser to the Dutch, Irish and Danish governments in matters relating to electronic voting. He now advises the U.S. government on these matters via his participation in working groups run by the Election Assistance Commission and National Institute of Standards and Technology. At Galois, he is the research lead in High-Assurance Secure Hardware Design, Rigorous Systems Engineering, Verifiable Elections, High-assurance Cryptography, and Audits-for-Good.
In March 2019, Galois announced that DARPA (the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) selected Kiniry’s team to build a first-of-its-kind secure voting system that uses open-source voting software and hardware, with fully verifiable and transparent results. Kiniry later published the source code and brought prototypes to the Def Con cyber conference’s Voting Village for hackers to test out its efficacy. The results could potentially pave the way for a high-assurance system that’s eligible for federal certification.
Then in May, Microsoft announced it would collaborate with Kiniry’s team to develop ElectionGuard, a free open-source software development kit (SDK) designed to make voting secure and verifiable anywhere in the world. ElectionGuard was made available this summer to election officials and election technology suppliers.
Under Kiniry’s leadership, Galois and Free & Fair also helped Colorado complete the first U.S. statewide set of risk-limiting post-election audits (RLAs) in binding elections. This initiative allowed 56 Colorado counties last November to provide more statistical evidence that their election outcomes were legitimate than any state had ever provided before.
What colleagues say: “The Secretary of State engaged Free & Fair to develop the software necessary for Colorado to conduct the nation’s first state risk-limiting audit in 2017. At the time, risk-limiting audits were largely theoretical and no model or example of the software existed. Due to various requirements of Colorado election law, the software was absolutely essential, the development schedule was very tight, and there was no realistic Plan B… Free & Fair ultimately delivered an elegant and user-friendly solution for an incredibly complex and dynamic process, and our county clerks and audit boards love it.” – Dwight Shellman, County Support Manager, Elections Division, Colorado Department of State