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Meretz aims to revolutionize electronic voting

February 2, 2012 22:25

Gal-On, Gilon to face off in primary.

Youth faction of Meretz Party

Meretz youth 311. (photo credit:Courtesy Meretz)

Meretz’s leadership race next Tuesday will feature a sophisticated new electronic system that could be a model for electronic voting around the world.

Called the Wombat voting system, it was developed by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and Tel Aviv University students using a code written by international cryptography expert Douglas Wikstrom of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm.

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“It’s a new concept that allows both privacy and credibility,” said Dr. Alon Rosen of IDC Herzliya, one of Wombat’s project leaders.

After the problems with print ballots in the 2000 US election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, he said, various electronic voting systems were tried in American elections.

But the systems failed so badly that states passed laws banning electronic voting.

According to Rosen, Wombat has both the credibility of an electronic system and the paper trail of old-style voting. So far, it has only been used for an IDC Herzliya student council election.

In an additional technological innovation, Meretz will stream the winner’s victory speech online.

Only the 1,000 members of Meretz’s governing council will be eligible to participate in voting at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

The candidates – MKs Zehava Gal-On and Ilan Gilon and party activist Uri Ophir – would each take the party in a different direction. If Gal-On wins, Meretz is expected to emphasize diplomatic and civic matters, while Gilon’s focus is on socioeconomic issues.

Meretz MKs have not made much news in recent years. Whoever wins the race will try to raise the party’s profile.

“We need to go back to being anti-establishment and inyour- face,” said Nitzan Horowitz, the only one of the three Meretz MKs who is not running. “There are a lot of nice people in politics. We need to stop being nice.”
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