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Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft announced 2 new elections tools Monday, including a free, open source system allowing voters to be sure their votes were accurately counted.

Why it matters: "This will allow citizens and officials to be confident the votes have not been hacked," said Tom Burt, corporate vice president for security and trust at Microsoft.

Details: The voter auditing system, called ElectionGuard, was developed with the security firm Galois, and uses what's known as homomorphic encryption to protect voter information while allowing voters to check it.

  • Homomorphic encryption allows computers to process information without ever decrypting it, meaning that a ballot would stay private even from the computers used to collect it.
  • "The voter gets a tracker that they will be able to enter later to see that their vote was correctly recorded and counted," said Burt.
  • And the system as a whole would allow third parties to tally votes on their own, ensuring there wasn't a miscalculation.

The odds: The difference between ElectionGuard being a useful tool and a neat thought experiment is whether election infrastructure vendors implement the program. While the finalized system won't be released until summer, said Burt, several vendors (Democracy Live, Election Systems & Software, Hart InterCivic, BPro, MicroVote, and VotingWorks) have publicly expressed interest.

A second new offering will be an enterprise class platform for campaigns at non-profit pricing with simplified configurations for campaigns.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Microsoft had announced 3 new election tools, not 2.

Go deeper

Afghanistan's president coming to Washington on Friday

Ashraf Ghani, left, president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the U.S. troop withdrawal accelerates, President Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House on Friday.

Our thought bubble: Axios politics editor Glen Johnson, who traveled to Afghanistan while working for Secretary of State John Kerry, said inviting both Ghani and Abdullah to Washington shows the administration’s respect for the delicate balance of power in the country.

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

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