Colloquium Speaker

Rebecca Mercuri, Harvard University
E-voting in an Untrustworthy World
Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Time: 7:30 to 9:00 PM
Place: Student Union, Kiva Auditorium


In 2004, nearly 30% of the USA voted on fully electronic equipment offering no capability for independent recounts, and another 50% of the country cast ballots tabulated by computer-based scanners. Other democratic nations, such as India and Venezuela, are turning to e-voting in unprecedented numbers. Vendors and promoters of these systems have made promises of reliability, accuracy and accessibility. Yet there is a growing list of malfunctions resulting in irretrievable loss of vote data, usability issues including county-wide denial of service incidents, and fraud allegations due to software substitutions. This talk explores the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems to insider and outsider attacks, and suggests some novel ways in which computers could be used to enhance transparency and confidence in the election process.

Bio: Rebecca Mercuri is globally recognized as one of the leading experts on electronic voting. Her 14 years of research on this subject, including her present position as a research fellow at Harvard University, and prior work at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering, has involved analyzing and observing elections, election data, and election equipment as a scientist, poll-worker and committeewoman. Writings include numerous papers on voting technology, her quarterly "Security Watch" column, and frequent "Inside Risks" guest columns for the Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery, as well as expert witness statements for a broad range of computer-related court proceedings, including Florida's Bush v. Gore case. Dr. Mercuri's informative webpage on electronic voting <> has been quoted in the U.S. Congressional Record and on the floor of the Irish Parliament, and she has provided formal comment to the House Science Committee, Federal Election Commission, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and UK Cabinet. Rebecca continues to play a direct role in municipal, state, federal, and international election legislation initiatives, and also serves as a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' working group on Voting Systems Standards.