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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

Updated 56 mins ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
57 mins ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.

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