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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.

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Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Why fears of a SPAC bubble may be overblown

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The SPAC surge continues unabated, with 10 new ones formed since Wednesday morning. And that's OK.

Between the lines: There are growing concerns that retail investors are about to get rolled, with smart sponsors taking advantage of dumb money.

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