A newly formed commission convened to study Pennsylvania’s election cybersecurity aims to reduce vulnerability of the state’s polls in time for the next presidential contest. David Hickton, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the head of University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and Grove City College President Paul McNulty will lead the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security. “Every part of our government and every part of what we stand for is premised upon free and fair elections and the public’s belief and confidence in our electoral system,” Hickton said. “Our systems are vulnerable.” Hickton said there is a sense of urgency in the commission’s work. He said he hopes the commission will wrap up later this year and present its recommendations to policymakers in time to have changes in place for 2020.
Hickton first told the Tribune-Review about the commission in February after a discussion he led with David Sanger, who covers cybersecurity for the New York Times . Sanger called Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections a sophisticated cyberattack but said it probably will never be known if it affected the outcome of the election.
… There will be 21 commissioners, including Hickton and McNulty. Commissioners include the former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security, the director of the cybersecurity emergency response team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute and the former chief of staff to U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. The heads of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh; the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania; and Verified Voting, a Pennsylvania voting transparency nonprofit, are on the commission. So are former Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey; Nelson Diaz, a retired Philadelphia judge; and Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments.