Saint Michael's College presents Dr. Rebecca Mercuri speaking on E-voting: Perils and Promisesin the McCarthy Arts Center at 7 p.m. Dr. Mercuri, a forensic computer scientist and president/CTO of Notable Software, is recognized as a world expert on e-voting, about which she has done 15 years of research. She was a court expert on the Bush v. Gore case, writes a frequent guest column in the Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery journal, is quoted in the Congressional Record, has provided expertise to the House Science Committee, Federal Election Commission, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and other official groups that work on election legislation. Dr. Mercuri’s talk examines the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems and offers ways to improve confidence in the election process.

This talk is being supported primarily by the SMC Lectureship Program (and secondarily by the SMC Computer Club), and more details about the talk, and the speaker can be found below. (This presentation is intended for a general audience.)

E-voting: Perils and Promises

In 2004, nearly 30% of the USA voted on fully electronic equipment that provided no capability for independent recounts, and another 50% of the country cast ballots that were tabulated by computer-based scanners. Although the $3.8B Help America Vote Act has fueled the purchase of such e-voting equipment in unprecedented numbers, the accompanying mandated standards (intended to ensure reliability, security, auditability and usability) have yet to be implemented. The result has been a growing list of election-day malfunctions, such as irretrievable loss of vote data, denial of service incidents, inappropriate functionality for disability access, and fraud allegations involving software or data substitutions. Some of the worst of these systems have been scrutinized, and even decertified for use in certain locations, but examination processes are far from universal nor even uniformly applied. 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.


Dr. Rebecca Mercuri has been awarded fellowships at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and she has been involved analyzing and observing elections, election data and election equipment as a scientist, poll-worker and committeewoman. 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.