The Law and Science of Trustworthy Elections

Thursday, January 5, 2012
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
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Andrew Campbell
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In the heated 2012 presidential election cycle, most Americans will cast primary and general election ballots on aging computer-based voting systems whose designs date to the early 2000s. States have also moved rapidly to allow internet transmission of voted ballots. At least 33 States now permit email, e-fax, or other internet voting methods for overseas absentee voters, both civilian and military. Some states have seen proposals to extend online balloting options to all voters.

Premier computer scientists have evaluated both precinct-based and internet electronic voting methods.  Their scientific assessments identified seriously flawed software and revealed the ease of tampering (even by hackers with little expertise), but those findings have had little effect on the technology in use.  States that produced 170 electoral votes in 2008 made exclusive or widespread use of the voting equipment that has received most criticism and is easiest to manipulate in ways that may be undetectable. Substantial portions of the U.S. Senate and House are elected from those jurisdictions.  In recent years, states that planned to purchase more secure voting devices postponed the change because of fiscal pressures.

This Program seeks to bridge the understandings of security, risk, and public values between computer scientists and legal academics, and to facilitate new scholarship by law professors that will address persistent regulatory and legal issues. Three panels will explore distinct sets of issues.

This discussion brings together experts and law professors with diverse specialties in a roundtable exchange on developing and implementing responses to these technological issues in an area–elections–that demands high levels of certainty about results.  The discussion may include analogies and differences between previous election issues and current technological developments; constitutional and legal principles that apply to selection and use of technology and to new evidentiary challenges that may emerge in election disputes; particular challenges in regulating technology during periods of rapid change; and whether a moratorium on internet voting is appropriate and, if so, the standards or thresholds that should determine its scope.  The panel will identify areas where new scholarship will be important and particular areas that may see new urgent questions during the coming year. (Please check online for updated list of participants.)

Speakers Include:
-Professor Andrew W. Appel, Ph.D., Princeton University Department of Computer Science
-Professor J. Alex Halderman, Ph.D., University of Michigan Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
-Richard L. Hasen, University of California, Irvine School of Law
-Candice Hoke, Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
-Dr. David R. Jefferson, Ph.D., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Center for Applied Scientific Computing
-Martha Mahoney, University of Miami School of Law
-Professor Walter R. Mebane, Ph.D., University of Michigan Department of Political Science
-Daniel P. Tokaji, The Ohio State University, Michael E. Moritz College of Law


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