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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 16, 2005

Jones Receives $800,000 NSF Grant To Study Electronic Voting

Douglas Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a five-year, $800,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to investigate the use of electronic voting systems in U.S. elections.

The UI grant is part of a $7.5 million NSF project called ACCURATE (A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable, and Transparent Elections) that includes researchers from the UI, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, SRI International, Rice University and Johns Hopkins University. The center, under the leadership of Aviel Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, will coordinate the work of 10 of the nation's leading experts in electronic voting, computer security, public policy issues relating to the use of computers and human-computer interaction.

Jones, the former chair of the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems on which he served for a decade, is nationally known as a critic of electronic voting technology. Last summer, he consulted on election security and pre-election testing for the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. He has found serious security problems with several widely used voting systems.

In a talk Jones gave in Washington last December to a panel on Electronic Voting convened by the Computer Science and Telecommunications board of The National Academy of Sciences, he said, "In most areas of computer science, we are willing to accept systems where a proof that the system is correct is more complex than the system itself. In contrast, whatever technology is used in elections must be sufficiently simple and sufficiently transparent that its correctness is apparent to large numbers of observers."

He went on to say: "We must build voting systems where the integrity of the system does not rest on a single mechanism and the assumption that the mechanism is perfectly administered. Instead, we must adopt a policy of defense in depth, where multiple layers of defense protect against the failure of any given layer."

Jones's publications include a chapter in the book Secure Electronic Voting, and the article, Auditing Elections, published last October. He testified in October 2004 before a Congressional Black Caucus hearing on election preparedness in Washington, D.C., telling the group that although there have been numerous changes in voting technology since 2000, the problems associated with the 2000 election were largely procedural and administrative, not technological. Consequently, the major promises of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 remain unfulfilled.

His other numerous appearances include testifying before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's hearings on Florida and the 2000 Election, the U.S. House Science Committee on the Help America Vote Act, and the Federal Election Commission on the 2002 draft voting system standards.

In addition to Jones, ACCURATE principal investigators are:

--Aviel Rubin, Johns Hopkins University, project director, nationally known security expert and a pioneer in the analysis of electronic voting system security.

--David Wagner, University of California at Berkeley, one of the nation's leading computer security experts.

--Deirdre Mulligan, University of California at Berkeley, expert in law and public policy issues.

--David Dill, Stanford University, nationally known expert on computer system testing and correctness and an outspoken critic electronic voting.

--Dan Boneh, Stanford University, nationally known expert on cryptography and computer security.

--Dan Wallach, Rice University, computer security expert and pioneering critic of electronic voting system security.

--Michael Byrne, Rice University, expert on human-computer interaction.

--Drew Dean, SRI International, computer security expert.

--Peter Neumann, SRI International, nationally known security expert and pioneer in the study of the risks of the improper use and administration of computer systems.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Program: Douglas Jones, douglas-w-jones@uiowa.edu