Computer Science Students from UMBC, George Washington, Stanford, Others Hope Contest Yields Ideas for More Secure Electronic Voting
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As worries increase about the reliability and security of electronic voting machines a week away from the General Election, a team of computer science students and professors from UMBC and George Washington University will announce on Thursday at the National Press Club the start of a new national competition aimed at sparking ideas for better electronic voting technology while raising college students’ awareness of the political process.
Organized by UMBC professor of computer science Alan Sherman and funded by the National Science Foundation, the University Voting Systems Competition (www.vocomp.org) will take place throughout the academic year.
The UMBC/GW team will compete against teams from Stanford, Rice, Newcastle (UK), Wroclaw (Poland), and other universities to design and implement innovative voting technologies. Teams must post their voting system designs online in January 2007 for review by peers and a panel of judges including IT experts from Microsoft, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and MIT.
Teams that advance to the next round of competition will be required to demonstrate their systems in a student government or similar real-world campus election in May. Five finalist teams will be chosen to travel to Portland, Oregon, on July 16-18, for the final competition which will include a judged mock election along with academic presentations, critiques, and invited lectures by national experts on voting.
According to Sherman, an expert on cryptology and the security of voting systems, the judging criteria include reliability, security, privacy, ease of use for voters and election officials, and accessibility to the disabled.
“There is a need for better voting technologies that are more secure, reliable, accountable and easy to use.” Sherman said. “This competition will inspire innovation and involvement, and establish the feasibility of competitions as a way to gauge the security of voting systems.”