Fwd: UC Berkeley part of NSF-funded center to study e-voting

From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Aug 15 2005 - 16:07:35 CDT

Sorry I had to keep rather quiet about this until we all issued press
releases today. best, Joe

Note: PIs include Avi Rubin (JHU), Doug Jones (Iowa), Dan Wallach
(Rice), Mike Byrne (Rice), Drew Dean (SRI), Peter Neumann (SRI), David
Dill (Stanford), Drew Dean (Stanford), David Wagner (Berkeley) and
Deirdre Mulligan (Berkeley)... the other institutions all have press
releases with quotes from their PIs, I believe.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Media Relations
Date: Aug 15, 2005 12:41 PM
Subject: UC Berkeley part of NSF-funded center to study e-voting

8/15/05 - File #17011
Contact: Sarah Yang
(510) 643-7741
scyang@berkeley.edu

UC Berkeley part of new
NSF-funded center to
study electronic voting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Berkeley -- Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, will
join colleagues at five institutions nationwide in a bold, new effort to
improve the reliability and trustworthiness of electronic voting technology.

The National Science Foundation today (Monday, Aug. 15) announced that it
will provide $7.5 million over five years for the new endeavor called A
Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable, and Transparent Elections
(ACCURATE). UC Berkeley is expected to receive approximately $1.3 million
of the funds.

The new center, led by Johns Hopkins University, will bring together
experts in computer science, law and usability in an interdisciplinary
effort to improve the nation's voting systems. Avi Rubin, professor of
computer science and technical director of the Information Security
Institute at Johns Hopkins, will be principal investigator of the new
center, the first large research effort into robust electronic voting systems.

In addition to UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, other participating
institutions are Rice University, Stanford University, the University of
Iowa and SRI International.

The center's researchers will investigate methods of mitigating known
problems with existing voting technologies - for example, adding a
voter-verified paper trail and cryptographic voting methods to aid audits -
as well as explore new solutions with computerized voting systems.

"We'll look into ways of making the innards of the machine more
trustworthy," said David Wagner, UC Berkeley assistant professor of
computer sciences and co-principal investigator of the center. "This could
range from building software that would make it hard for somebody to insert
malicious logic without detection to building machines that include
components from multiple vendors so the system can cross check itself."

"The 2000 presidential election and ensuing legal challenges were a stark
reminder that the machinery of democracy matters," said Deirdre K.
Mulligan, UC Berkeley law professor, director of the Samuelson Law,
Technology and Public Policy Clinic, and a co-principal investigator of the
center. "Legal and policy concerns must be taken into consideration during
the research and design process to ensure that the next generation of
voting systems reflects our democratic commitments to equality,
accessibility, privacy and security."

The researchers will put the voting systems they study through an
aggressive battery of attacks, seeking flaws so they can design
countermeasures before the systems are tested in the field.

The announcement comes as an increasing number of election officials
nationwide are looking to electronic machines as alternatives to hanging
chads and other outdated balloting methods. According to Election Data
Services, the percentage of registered voters in the United States using
electronic voting equipment jumped from 13 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in
2004.

"Many of today's e-voting systems were rushed into production in response
to the pressure to replace paper balloting after the controversial 2000
presidential election," said Wagner. "It was done before the research
community was able to lay the groundwork to ensure that these electronic
systems wouldn't replace old problems with new ones."

Concerns over the ability to verify votes cast electronically have led some
states, including California, to mandate a paper trail when e-voting
machines are used. However, in late July, e-voting machines manufactured by
Diebold Election Systems were rejected by California election officials
after mock election tests revealed an unacceptably high rate of screen
freezes and paper jams.

Questions also emerged after the 2004 presidential election with reports of
problems with the use of computerized voting equipment. Few of the reported
irregularities were significant enough to change the outcome of an
election, but the cases further shook public trust in the devices.

"Election laws and procedures have not kept pace with developments in
voting technology," Mulligan added. "Recounts, for example, provide an
essential check in paper ballot voting systems, but the electronic voting
systems in use during the last several elections make meaningful recounts
impossible because they do not maintain a stable, voter-verified, record of
each vote. Public trust in elections requires voting systems worthy of trust."

The researchers point out that the results from the center's studies may
also be applied to online auctions and such fields as spyware prevention.

"Fundamentally, improving elections systems is critical to maintaining the
integrity of democracy itself," said Wagner.

###

NOTE: To contact David Wagner, call (510) 642-2758, or e-mail
daw@cs.berkeley.edu. Deirdre Mulligan can be reached at (510) 642-0499 or
dmulligan@law.berkeley.edu.

-- 
Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
<http://josephhall.org/>
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Received on Wed Aug 31 23:17:25 2005

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