Securing the Vote
Protecting American Democracy
Committee on the Future of Voting:
Accessible, Reliable, Verifiable Technology
Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
Policy and Global Affairs
Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported with grants to the National Academy of Sciences from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (#G-16-53637) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (#G-2016-5031) and with funds from National Academy of Sciences’ W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fund and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Presidents’ Circle Fund. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-47647-8
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-47647-X
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018952779
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25120
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25120.
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COMMITTEE ON THE FUTURE OF VOTING: ACCESSIBLE, RELIABLE, VERIFABLE TECHNOLOGY
LEE C. BOLLINGER, President, Columbia University
MICHAEL A. McROBBIE, President, Indiana University
ANDREW W. APPEL, Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University
JOSH BENALOH, Senior Cryptographer, Microsoft Research
KAREN COOK (NAS), Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology; Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS); and Vice-Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, Stanford University
DANA DeBEAUVOIR, Travis County Clerk, County of Travis, TX
MOON DUCHIN, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Founding Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Tufts University
JUAN E. GILBERT, Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and Chair of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department, University of Florida
SUSAN L. GRAHAM (NAE), Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor Emerita, Computer Science Division, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California, Berkeley
NEAL KELLEY, Registrar of Voters and Chief of Elections, County of Orange, CA
KEVIN J. KENNEDY, Director and General Counsel (retired), Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
NATHANIEL PERSILY, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
RONALD L. RIVEST (NAS/NAE), Institute Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CHARLES STEWART III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ANNE-MARIE MAZZA, Study Director and Senior Director, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
JON EISENBERG, Senior Director, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board
STEVEN KENDALL, Program Officer, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
KAROLINA KONARZEWSKA, Program Coordinator, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
WILLIAM J. SKANE, Consultant Writer
CLARA SAVAGE, Financial Officer, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND LAW
DAVID BALTIMORE (NAS/NAM), President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology, California Institute of Technology
DAVID S. TATEL, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
THOMAS D. ALBRIGHT (NAS), Professor and Director, Vision Center Laboratory and Conrad T. Prebys Chair in Vision Research, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
ANN ARVIN (NAM), Lucile Packard Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology; Vice Provost and Dean of Research, Stanford University
JOE S. CECIL, Project Director (retired), Program on Scientific and Technical Evidence, Division of Research, Federal Judicial Center
R. ALTA CHARO (NAM), Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
HARRY T. EDWARDS, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
CHARLES ELACHI (NAE), Professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology
JEREMY FOGEL, Director, Federal Judicial Center
HENRY T. GREELY, Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics, Stanford University
MICHAEL IMPERIALE, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Microbiology and Immunology University of Michigan
ROBERT S. LANGER (NAS/NAE/NAM), David H. Koch Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
GOODWIN LIU, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
JUDITH MILLER, Independent Consultant
JENNIFER MNOOKIN, Dean and David G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
MARTINE A. ROTHBLATT, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, United Therapeutics
JOSHUA R. SANES (NAS), Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Paul J. Finnegan Family Director, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University
WILLIAM B. SCHULTZ, Partner, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
SUSAN S. SILBEY, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, and Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
DAVID C. VLADECK, A.B. Chettle, Jr., Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
SUSAN WESSLER (NAS), University of California President’s Chair and Distinguished Professor of Genetics, University of California, Riverside
ANNE-MARIE MAZZA, Senior Director
STEVEN KENDALL, Program Officer
KAROLINA KONARZEWSKA, Program Coordinator
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD
FARNAM JAHANIAN, Carnegie Mellon University
LUIZ BARROSO, Vice President of Engineering, Google, Inc.
STEVEN M. BELLOVIN (NAE), Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University
ROBERT F. BRAMMER, President and Chief Executive Officer, Brammer Technology, LLC
DAVID E. CULLER (NAE), Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley
EDWARD FRANK, Chief Executive Officer, Cloud Parity, Inc.
LAURA M. HAAS (NAE), Dean, College of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
MARK A. HOROWITZ (NAE), Yahoo! Founders Chair, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University
ERIC HORVITZ (NAE), Distinguished Scientist and Director, Microsoft Research
VIJAY KUMAR (NAE), Nemirovsky Family Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
BETH MYNATT, Distinguished Professor and Executive Director Institute for People and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology
CRAIG PARTRIDGE, Chief Scientist, Raytheon BBN Technologies
DANIELA RUS (NAE), Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
FRED B. SCHNEIDER (NAE), Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Computer Science and Chairman, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University
MARGO SELTZER, Herchel Smith Professor of Computer Science and the Faculty Director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society, Harvard University
MOSHE VARDI (NAS, NAE), Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering and Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, Rice University
JON EISENBERG, Senior Director
LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Associate Director and Director, Forum on Cyber Resilience
EMILY GRUMBLING, Program Officer
KATIRIA ORTIZ, Associate Program Officer
JANKI PATEL, Senior Program Assistant
SHENAE BRADLEY, Administrative Assistant
RENEE HAWKINS, Financial and Administrative Manager
When we were asked in fall 2016 to serve as co-chairs of the committee that would ultimately author the current report, it seemed that our attention would be focused on identifying technological solutions that could redress problems such as long lines at polling places and outdated election systems. We imagined that we would offer an evaluation of the innovations being adopted by forward-looking election administrators across the nation. We suspected that we would find that voting systems are moving away from in-person physical balloting toward systems that embrace technologies that enable remote (Internet) voting.
However, by the time the committee met for the first time in April 2017, it was clear that the most significant threat to the American elections system was coming, not from faulty or outdated technologies, but from efforts to undermine the credibility of election results. Unsubstantiated claims about election outcomes fanned by social and other media threaten civic stability. Perhaps even more troubling is evidence that foreign actors are targeting our election infrastructure in an attempt to undermine confidence in our democratic institutions. On a regular, almost daily basis, we learned more about the nature of and motives behind this new and dangerous development. Even as we received testimony from election administrators and experts from government, industry, and academia regarding the many issues faced in the conduct of elections, we were constantly reminded in news stories, by congressional hearings, and through reports from the intelligence community of the extraordinary threat from foreign actors using cyber weapons and social media to manipulate the electorate and to target our elections and cast doubt on the integrity of the elections process.
The current report makes numerous recommendations designed to harden our election infrastructure and safeguard its integrity and credibility.
We live in a nation that is unique in the tremendous importance it places on free speech. This remarkable privilege was enshrined in the First Amendment by the framers of the Constitution. Not only does the Constitution forbid official censorship, but it invests our government with the extraordinary responsibility of ensuring that all Americans can be heard. In this context, the ability of the citizenry to participate in elections and have their votes accurately cast and counted is paramount.
Over the course of this study, we were inspired by dedicated and enlightened election officials from across the nation and all levels of government. Such individuals are working tirelessly to improve accessibility, harness new technologies, and ensure the integrity of the results of elections. Unfortunately, these same officials often lack appropriate staff and resources and are routinely hampered in their work by a patchwork of laws and regulations that make it difficult to upgrade and modernize their election systems.
We also heard from researchers working to design better ballots, develop better and more secure voting systems, and identify new ways to quickly and reliably certify that the results of elections are reflective of the will of the voters. All too often, their efforts are underfunded, important research questions remain unaddressed, and there are challenges to translating research into practice.
The 2016 Presidential election was a watershed moment in the history of elections. The election exposed new technical and operational challenges that require the immediate attention of state and local governments, the federal government, researchers, and the American public. The election showed us that citizens must become more discerning consumers of information and that state and local governments must work collaboratively and together with the federal government to secure our election systems. Further, our leaders must speak candidly and apolitically about threats to our election systems. Transparent communication about threats to the integrity of our elections is vital. Openness is the most effective antidote to cynicism and distrust. In the interconnected world we increasingly live in, we want and need to hear what those beyond our borders think, but we must be cognizant of deliberate and deceitful efforts to spread disinformation and propaganda. The American people must have confidence that their leaders place the larger interests of democracy above all else. The future of voting is one in which a clear tension must be managed: we must prevent bad actors from corrupting our electoral process while delivering the means to provide suffrage to an electorate that is growing in size and complexity.
We are deeply indebted to the members of the committee for their dedication to our task and for the countless hours they spent exchanging ideas
and reviewing testimony and background materials. Each member contributed thoughtfully and collegially to the committee’s many discussions.
We are immensely grateful to the staff who worked tirelessly on behalf of the committee: Anne-Marie Mazza; Jon Eisenberg; Steven Kendall; Karolina Konarzewska; and consultant writer Bill Skane.
It has been our great pleasure and honor to lead this important study. We believe that the findings and recommendations laid out in this report provide the United States with a blueprint for an elections system that is accessible, reliable, verifiable, and secure.
Lee C. Bollinger and Michael A. McRobbie
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ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PRESENTERS
The committee gratefully acknowledges the thoughtful contributions of the following individuals who made presentations before the committee: Robert F. Bauer, Perkins Coie LLP; Brenda Bayes, State of Oregon; David Becker, Center for Election Innovation & Research; David Beirne, Federal Voting Assistance Program; Kenneth Bennett, Los Angeles County, CA; Matthew Blaze, University of Pennsylvania; Mary Brady, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Jonathan Brill, Scytl; Matthew Caulfied, University of Pennsylvania; Doug Chapin, University of Minnesota; Edgardo Cortes, State of Virginia Elections Board; McDermot Coutts, Unisyn Voting Solutions; David Fidler, Indiana University; Monica Flores, Los Angeles County, CA; Joe P. Gloria, Clark County, NV; Diane Cordry Golden, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs; J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan; Geoffrey Hale, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Kathleen Hale, Auburn University; Hillary Hall, Boulder County, CO; Thad Hall, Fors Marsh Group; Shane Hamlin, Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC); Jackie Harris, Democracy Live; General Michael Hayden, U.S. Air Force, National Security Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency (retired); Susan Hennessey, Brookings Institution; Douglas A. Kellner, State of New York; Merle King, Kennesaw State University; Joe Kiniry, Free & Fair; Robert Kolasky, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Connie Lawson, State of Indiana and National Association of Secretaries of State; Matthew Masterson, U.S. Election Assistance Commission; Tim Mattice, The Election Center; Neal McBurnett,
Free & Fair; Amber McReynolds, City and County of Denver, CO; Jennifer Morrell, Arapahoe County, CO; Jessica Myers, U.S. Election Assistance Commission; Brian Newby, U.S. Election Assistance Commission; Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University; Alex Padilla, National Association of Secretaries of State; Eddie Perez, Hart InterCivic; Whitney Quesenbery, Center for Civic Design; Peggy Reeves, State of Connecticut; Leslie Reynolds, National Association of Secretaries of State; Robert Rock, State of Rhode Island; Hilary Rudy, State of Colorado; John Schmitt, Five Cedars Group; Lisa Schur, Rutgers University; Alexander Schwarzmann, University of Connecticut; Will Senning, State of Vermont; James Simons, Everyone Counts; David Stafford, Escambia County (FL) Elections Office; Robert M. Stein, Rice University; and Anthony Stevens, State of New Hampshire.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF REVIEWERS
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Robert Bauer, Perkins Coie LLP; Matthew Blaze, University of Pennsylvania; Douglas Chapin, University of Minnesota; Judd Choate, Colorado Department of State; David Dill, Stanford University; Michael Haas, Wisconsin Election Commission; J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan; Douglas Kellner, New York State Board of Elections; Philip Kortum, Rice University; Jane Lute, United Nations; Whitney Quesenbery, Center for Civic Design; Barbara Simons, IBM Corporation; David Stafford, Escambia County (FL) Elections Office; and Philip Stark, University of California, Berkeley.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Anita K. Jones, University of Virginia and David C. Vladeck, Georgetown University Law Center. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
2 Voting and the 2016 Presidential Election
4 Analysis of Components of Elections
5 Ensuring the Integrity of Elections
7 Securing the Future of Voting
A Biographical Information of Committee and Staff
C The Targeting of the American Electorate
D The Cost of Election Administration in the United States
E Reasons to Cast a Provisional Ballot
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Boxes, Figures, and Tables
1-1 Election Management and the U.S. Constitution
3-1 Overview of Vote Casting and Tabulation Methods
3-2 The Role of Paper in Elections
3-3 U.S. Government Accountability Office Survey on Voting Equipment Use and Replacement
4-1 Ballot Design and the Disabled Community
5-1 Properties of End-to-end-verifiable Voting Systems
1-1 George Caleb Bingham, The County Election
3-2 The interaction of election systems
3-3 Electronic pollbook usage in the United States
3-4 Voting systems across the United States
3-5 Early and by-mail (including absentee) voting in the United States