Security in Voting Systems

Thursday, October 16, 2008 - 7:00pm
Professor Ronald L. Rivest, MIT CSAIL
Prof. Ronald Rivest, MIT CSAIL
While running an election sounds simple, it is in fact extremely challenging. Not only are there millions of voters to be authenticated and millions of votes to be carefully collected, counted, and stored, there are now millions of "voting machines" containing millions of lines of code to be evaluated for security vulnerabilities. Moreover, voting systems have a unique requirement: the voter must not be given a "receipt" that would allow them to prove how they voted to someone else---otherwise the voter could be coerced or bribed into voting a certain way. This lack of receipts makes the design of secure voting system much more challenging than, say, the security of banking systems (where receipts are the norm). We discuss some of the recent trends and innovations in voting systems, as well as some of the new requirements being placed upon voting systems in the U.S., and describe some promising directions for resolving the conflicts inherent in voting system requirements, including some approaches based on cryptography. This is a joint meeting of the Boston/Central New England Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society and GBC/ACM. For more information contact Peter Mager (p.mager at Updated: August 21, 2008.
Professor Rivest is the Viterbi Professor of Computer Science in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is a member of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), a member of the lab's Theory of Computation Group and is a leader of its Cryptography and Information Security Group. He received a B.A. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1974. Professor Rivest has research interests in cryptography, computer and network security, voting systems, and algorithms. Professor Rivest is a co-inventor of the RSA public-key cryptosystem. He has extensive experience in cryptographic design and cryptanalysis, and has published numerous papers in these areas. He is a founder of RSA Data Security and Verisign. Professor Rivest is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the International Association for Cryptographic Research, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also on the Advisory Board for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Professor Rivest has won numerous awards. Together with Adi Shamir and Len Adleman, he has been awarded the 2000 IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award and the Secure Computing Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also received, together with Shamir and Adleman, the 2002 ACM Turing Award. Most recently, Professor Rivest has served on the U.S. Technical Guidelines Development Committee, which has drafted proposed standards for certifying voting system in the U.S.

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