Twenty-five years ago, as election officials around the country were discovering wondrous new ways to tabulate votes, a group of computer scientists got together in Boston for an impressively titled “First National Symposium on Security and Reliability of Computers in the Electoral Process.”
The session aired concerns about the integrity of computer-based voting methods and machines. In addition to computer scientists, the participants included election administrators from around the country, academics and equipment vendors. The subject remained fairly esoteric for several years until the 2000 presidential election, when voting machine irregularities and related incidents in Florida cast a bright light on the security of votes.
Less than two months after that election, the presidents of CalTech and MIT launched a collaboration to study the subject. Their Voting Technology Project, which is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, set out to develop better voting systems standards and testing practices, and to work on post-election auditing methods and related subjects.
On Oct. 1, in something of a retrospective of that first symposium 25 years ago, the CalTech-MIT Voting Technology Project will hold a big public discussion titled “Election Integrity — Past, Present and Future.”
The event will host a wide range of panelists from academia, systems and elections offices, and will have a relevance to all Americans with an interest in voting integrity where machines are involved — meaning practically everybody.