|How Computers Will Steal the 2008
Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D.
Notable Software, Inc.
Tuesday, October 28, 7 p.m.
Wu & Chen Auditorium, Levine Hall
It may seem heartening that over 60% of voters will be making their choices on paper, rather than electronically, this November, especially to those who have heard of (or even observed) touch-screen machines flipping votes from one candidate (usually a Democrat) to another (usually a Republican) before their very eyes. But, given that most of these paper ballots will also be counted by computers, we won't likely know whether or not the election results will truly reflect the voters' intentions again this year.
This lecture explains why it is inherently impossible to adequately validate election systems for correctness, and why many recent innovative suggestions (such as involving cryptography, paper trails, partial audits, or open source code) cannot provide sufficient accuracy, security, reliability and transparency for the computational devices used in public elections.
Rebecca Mercuri is well established as one of the leading international experts on electronic balloting and vote tabulation. With two decades of research, a Ph.D. dissertation (at Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science), and dozens of published papers on various aspects of election systems and computer security, her opinions have been sought by equipment manufacturers, candidates involved in recounts (including Bush v. Gore), federal organizations (such as the House Science Committee, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.K. Cabinet's Office of the e-Envoy), as well as by numerous state and local legislative bodies. Following fellowships (from 2003-2005) at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Radcliffe Institute, Dr. Mercuri returned to the consulting company she founded, Notable Software, Inc., where she and her forensic team perform computer-related investigations and provide expert witness services on a wide range of civil, municipal and criminal cases.