Daniel P. Lopresti: Other Activities
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,
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
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,
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
for the full NIST draft report.
"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
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
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.
displays touch-screen system", The Morning Call, March 8, 2006.
new voting devices debut with a demonstration", The Express-Times,
March 8, 2006. (Note that I have no connection to the Coalition for
Voting Integrity, despite what the story says.)
County Unveils Voting Machines", WFMZ, March 8, 2006.
prepare for primary", PittsburghLive.com / Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review, March 8,
officials prepare for primary", Daily Courier, March 8, 2006.
Paper No Proof No Vote", WFMZ, March 16, 2006.
registrar: Yell at others over
new voting machines", The Morning Call, March 17, 2006.
Tuesday takes: More machine concerns", (editorial),
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 21,
voting to face scrutiny at Lehigh University", The Morning Call,
April 18, 2006.
TV news coverage of our e-voting panel session, WFMZ, April 19-20,
machines not secure, panel says", The Brown and White (Lehigh
April 24, 2006.
Voters on E-Voting: Trust, but verify" by Linda Harbrecht,
OpEdNews.com, October 4, 2006.
about touchscreens" by Sarah Cassi, The Express-Times, October 6,
- We got mentioned on the highly influential BradBlog! Voice of the Voters: The Power
and Responsibility of Democracy, October 18, 2006.
those who have an interest in better understanding the technical
recommend reading the following original source material authored by
respected researchers on e-voting
And here's some other related media coverage of the e-voting issue:
- "Analysis of
Electronic Voting System" by Tadayoshi Kohno, Adam Stubblefield,
Aviel D. Rubin, and Dan S. Wallach, IEEE Symposium on Security and
- "Trusted Agent
Report: Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting System" by RABA Innovative
Solution Cell (RiSC), 2004.
Recommends Integrity, Security, Usability in E-Voting: Cites Risks of
Computer-based Systems", position statement by the Association for
Computing Machinery, September 27, 2004.
Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter" by David Wagner,
David Jefferson, Matt Bishop, Chris Karlof, and Naveen Sastry, February
Democracy Transparent" by David Dill, March 7, 2006.
- "Diebold TSx
Evaluation" by Harri Hursti for Black Box Voting, May 11, 2006.
Machinery of Democracy: Protecing Elections in an Electronic
World" by the Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security,
Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine" by Ariel J.
Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten, September 13, 2006.
Voting" by Rebecca Mercuri.
House votes to oust Diebold machines", Computerworld, March 10,
House Approves Paper Ballots", The Washington Post, March 10, 2006.
Sense in Maryland" (editorial), The New York Times, March 23, 2006.
trust easily manipulated computer voting machines" by Alan Brau
(editorial), The Morning Call, March 23, 2006.
vote machines gets a 'nay'", The Morning Call, March 30, 2006.
voting isn't the right answer" by John Schneider (editorial), The
Baltimore Sun, March 31, 2006.
machine warning issued: Schuylkill, Carbon bolster security efforts
after glitch found", The Morning Call, May 4, 2006.
- "Voting glitch
said to be 'dangerous'", insideBayArea.com, May 10, 2006.
- "Will Your
Vote Count in 2006?", Newsweek, May 29, 2006.
- "Blowing the
Whistle on Diebold", In These Times, July 17, 2006.
The Next Election Be Hacked?" by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rolling
Stone, September 21, 2006.
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
Service: Department, College, University
|Some of my Lehigh service
- 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, 2009-2013.
- Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Nomination Committee,
- 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 / 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
- Advisory Committee, 2011 Academic Symposium, to be
held March 29, 2011.
- Bioengineering Graduate Program Committee, 2004 –
- 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).
Webpage last updated May 1, 2012.
|I am proud to be engaged
in many alumni activities at Princeton
I received my PhD in Computer
Science in 1987.
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,
instituted Andrew Fleming West Society to tap expertise of past APGA
leaders, conceived and instituted APGA Regional Association
first-ever APGA Reunions service projects, transitioned APGA
to fully functioning website supporting online dues payment and