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Daniel P. Lopresti:  Other Activities


E-Voting Systems
On November 3, 2008, the day before the presidential election, I was interviewed on WFMZ 69 News concerning potential voting problems. To view details about the show, click here.

I filed an influential affidavit in the case of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People State Conference of Pennsylvania ("NAACP-SCP"), Election Reform Network, Richard Brown, Angel Coleman, and Genevieve Geis vs. Pedro A. Cortés, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Chet Harhut, Commissioner, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, Pennsylvania Department of State. Click here to read my affidavit and click here to read the full complaint. The question at hand concerns the distribution of emergency paper ballots when 50% or more of the electronic voting machines in a given precinct have failed. The case was decided in our favor by Judge Harvey Bartle III on October 29, 2008. Click here and here to read media coverage of the decision.

Click here for an overview talk on e-voting that I gave at a Friends of the Lehigh Libraries symposium on October 23, 2008.

On May 12, 2008, I appeared in a panel discussion on WFMZ 69's "Business Matters" hosted by Tony Iannelli with Stacy Sterner, Ken Kraft, Santa Bannon-Shillea, and Alan Brau. To view details about the show, click here.

Several colleagues and I wrote a letter to our state legislators outlining our concerns with current plans to introduce e-voting technology here in PA. For a copy of our letter, click here.

For the announcement of a panel session I helped organize on the e-voting controversy and its associated risks in April 2006, click here.
My PowerPoint slides for the panel session (PDF format) appear here.
For media coverage of the panel session, see the links below.

In October 2006, two colleagues, Chris Borick (from the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion) and Ziad Munson (from the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Lehigh), and I released the results of a telephone poll of Pennsylvania voters measuring their attitudes towards e-voting. In a nutshell, voters overwhelmingly want to see a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), and while they are open to the idea of electronic voting, express wariness about the vulnerabilities of such systems. For the complete results of the survey, click here.

In a major new development (late November 2006), NIST has come out with a recommendation that purely electronic systems (those with no paper backup) be scrapped. They note:

"One conclusion drawn by NIST is that the lack of an independent audit capability in DRE voting systems is one of the main reasons behind continued questions about voting system security and diminished public confidence in elections. NIST does not know how to write testable requirements to make DREs secure, and NIST’s recommendation to the STS is that the DRE in practical terms cannot be made secure. Consequently, NIST and the STS recommend that VVSG 2007 should require voting systems to be of the SI “class,” whose readily available (albeit not always optimal) examples include op scan and DRE-VVPAT."

Click here for the full NIST draft report.



Radio Show
"Voice of the Voters! Power and Responsibility of Democracy" by Mary Ann Gould of the Coalition for Voting Integrity. Listen on WNJC, 1360AM, Philadelphia's Renaissance Radio Station and everywhere on the Internet.


Because voting is fundamental to our democratic system of government, every citizen has a vested interest in this subject. Please note that our position is not a political one, nor does it necessarily reflect the official position of Lehigh University. Rather, our goal is to see that e-voting technology is applied securely and fairly wherever it is used.

In general, the press has done a fine job when they have covered this; here are some of the news stories that have appeared where we get mentioned:
However, there is some misinformation floating around as well. In a nutshell, we do not oppose the use of electronic voting machines. Rather, we want to be sure the proper safeguards are in place. Despite assertions to the contrary, the systems we see under consideration for use here in Pennsylvania fall well short of this goal. At a minimum, such systems must employ a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). Officials who are in charge of preparing the machines and overseeing elections must be educated as to the significant new security concerns that arise in replacing mechanical systems with electronic ones (e.g., they must be instructed to change default passwords to something more secure). The use of systems that employ any sort of networking technology, especially wireless networking, raises additional serious issues and should be avoided, at least for now. Finally, we would like to see the source code for e-voting systems made openly available for scrutiny by independent experts; history and experience have shown that it is dangerous to base the security of large, widely-deployed software systems on the mistaken assumption that the code can be kept secret.

For those who have an interest in better understanding the technical details, I recommend reading the following original source material authored by respected researchers on e-voting systems:
And here's some other related media coverage of the e-voting issue:

The following newspaper article contains some troubling statements asserting that the use of a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is "unnecessary," "redundant," and "expensive":
These opinions reflect common misconnceptions concerning the nature of the problem. Here is my response, sent as a letter to the editor of the newpaper which appeared (slightly edited) in the June 14 edition:
"I'm both puzzled and troubled by statements made by Northampton Registrar Deborah DePaul as reported in the article on e-voting in today's Morning Call. As a professor of computer science and a researcher in cybersecurity, I have an understanding of the vulnerabilities that are present in these machines, which are nothing more than specialized computer systems. One point that is often missed is that such systems can be compromised in ways that are almost impossible to detect, even for an expert, let alone a volunteer poll worker or untrained election official. As is the case with the more familiar computer viruses that propagate around the Internet, a machine can appear to be operating normally -- tallying votes correctly in small-scale tests before election day -- only to begin malfunctioning when the votes really count, just as computer viruses can be programmed to activate on a certain day. The fact that a system records multiple copies of a voter's ballot in separate memories means nothing if every electronic copy has been altered in the same way because the system has been hacked. As many other states have determined, including most recently California, only a hardcopy paper audit trail provides for independent confirmation of a voter's intentions should a re-count be necessary."

"DePaul states that she "will be fighting" the incorporation of paper audit trails in Northampton's e-voting machines because the printouts would be too expensive. I have yet to see data that supports this assertion. I will note, however, that Diebold, one of the major vendors of e-voting equipment, also produces the ATMs used by many banks which reliably and inexpensively print paper receipts for each and every transaction, no matter how small. When I buy a cup of coffee at a local fast food place and ask for a receipt, they happily provide one. Whatever the small extra expense having a paper audit trail entails, we must take the stand that fair and trustworthy elections are most certainly worth it."

Pending legislation regarding e-voting:


Computer Science as a Discipline
We need to work to increase participation by women and under-represented minorities in the field of Computer Science.
  • On Febraury 1, 2006, we hosted a visit by Maria Klawe, Dean of Engineering at Princeton and soon-to-be President of Harvey Mudd College, on the topic “Gender, Lies and Video Games: the Truth about Females and Computing”.
    • Click here for a copy of her PowerPoint slides in PDF format.
    • Click here for an article in the Brown and White, Lehigh's student newspaper, about her visit. (Note: while I appreciate the complement :-), there's only one true student in the accompanying photograph: Emily Cohen, Lehigh '08 on the right.)


Lehigh Service: Department, College, University
Some of my Lehigh service activies include:
  • Faculty Steering Committee, RCEAS Representative, 2006-2010; Chair 2008-2009.
  • Rules and Procedures Subcommittee of the Faculty Steering Committee, 2006-2010; Chair, 2007-2008.
  • University Nominations Committee, 2010-2013.
  • Department Chairs Executive Committee, 2009-2016; Chair 2011-2012.
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Nomination Committee, 2006-present.
  • Presidential Inauguration Committee, 2006-2007; University-wide coordinator for An Exhibition of Student Research and Scholarship at Lehigh, held April 12, 2007.
  • Lehigh Strategic Thinking Initiative, Co-Chair of the Faculty & Staff Working Group (with S. Cady),  Spring 2008.
  • Provost Search Committee, Fall 2008-Spring 2009.
  • Advisory Committee, 2009 Academic Symposium:  A Tradition of Excellence,  held April 16, 2009.
  • Advisory Committee, Lehigh Howard Hughes Medical Institute program, 2009-present.
  • Lehigh Strategic Plan Implementation, Co-Chair of the Cluster Development Working Group (with A. Anderson), Spring 2010.
  • Lehigh Strategic Plan Implementation, Co-Chair of the Cluster Faculty Hiring Committee (with A. Anderson), Fall 2010 – Spring 2013.  Led to the establishment of three faculty-conceived interdisciplinary clusters at Lehigh:  Africana Studies, Integrated Networks for Electricity (SmartGrid), and Community Health.
  • Lehigh / Universiti Teknologi Petronas (Malaysia) R&D Collaboration Working Committee, Spring 2010-present.
  • Lehigh Strategic Plan Implementation, Co-Chair of the Cluster Faculty Hiring Committee (with A. Anderson), Fall 2010-Spring 2011.
  • Advisory Committee, 2011 Academic Symposium, to be held March 29, 2011.
  • Bioengineering Graduate Program Committee, 2004 – present.
  • RCEAS Bio, Environmental, and Molecular Engineering Advisory Council, 2006 –  present.
  • RCEAS Council of Chairs, 2009 – present.
  • Plus many others too numerous to mention (see my Vita for a more detailed list).


Professional Associations
I am a member of the following professional societies:

I am also past Chair of TC-11 of the International Association for Pattern Recognition.



Princeton-Related Activities
I am proud to be engaged in many alumni activities at Princeton University, where I received my PhD in Computer Science in 1987.
  • Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni (APGA)
    • Governing Board (1997-2011)
    • President (2006-2008)
    • Vice President (2004-2006)
    • Treasurer (1998-2000)
    • Executive Committee (1998-2011)
    • Departmental Relations Committee (Chair 2001-2004)
    • Nominations & Awards Committee (2005-2011)
    • Accomplishments:  strengthened bonds between graduate and undergraduate alumni organizations, increased APGA support for graduate student teaching awards and summer research funding, was instrumental in graduate alumni adopting traditional Reunions blazer, conceived and instituted Andrew Fleming West Society to tap expertise of past APGA leaders, conceived and  instituted APGA Regional Association Award, established first-ever APGA Reunions service projects, transitioned APGA to fully functioning website supporting online dues payment and Reunions registration.


Media
Below is a selecton of media sources where I have provided an expert opinion on a variety of computer science topics.
  • Guest technical expert on electronic voting systems, WNJC's (1360AM) “Voice of the Voters” radio show hosted by Mary Ann Gould, October 25, 2006.
  • Guest panelist for a discussion on electronic voting systems (with M. A. Gould and J. Passarella), NBC 10's (Philadelphia)  “Live at Issue” hosted by Steve Highsmith, September 23, 2007.
  • Guest technical expert on electronic voting systems, WNJC's (1360AM) “Voice of the Voters” radio show hosted by Mary Ann Gould, December 19, 2007.
  • Guest panelist for a discussion on electronic voting systems (with  S. Sterner, K. Kraft, S. Bannon-Shillea, and A. Brau), WFMZ 69's “Business Matters” hosted by Tony Iannelli, May 12, 2008.
  • Radio interview on electronic voting systems, WDHP 1620 AM (Reef Broadcasting, U.S. Virgin Islands) hosted by Mario Moorhead, May 3, 2012.
  • Quoted as an expert on document analysis in AP news story “Media Sometimes Try, Fail to Keep NSA's Secrets” by Raphael Satter, February 8, 2014.
  • Quoted as an expert on cybersecurity in Morning Call news story “Hackers may have attacked Las Vegas Sands websites through Bethlehem's portal” by Matt Assad, February 18, 2014.
  • Quoted as an expert on cybersecurity in Morning Call news story “Data breaches likely as hackers stay a step ahead” by Peter Hall, March 8, 2014.



Webpage last updated March 10, 2014.

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