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.