Webinar Series

Risks to Elections in the COVID-19 Era

A Fireside Chat with Peter G. Neumann and Rebecca T. Mercuri



Risks to Elections in the COVID-19 Era

A Fireside Chat with Peter G. Neumann and Rebecca T. Mercuri 


The year 2020 has loomed as a critical one for elections in the United States. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 provided an additional $380M in funding as Help America Vote Act grants for states to make election security improvements, including for the replacement of voting equipment that does not produce a paper record. Still, some 16 million voters (about 12% of those registered, across 8 states) would have been using paperless machines that provide no way to confirm that ballots have been accurately recorded or counted.

Now, with fears of COVID-19 in the mix, many municipalities are making plans for all-paper and even all-absentee voting, in the remaining primaries and for the November General Election. Yet, these methods still suffer from age-old forms of fraud and tampering that have never been properly addressed.

In this webinar, Drs. Neumann and Mercuri describe some of the problematic issues that should be anticipated, along with suggestions for the implementation of risk mitigations, while there is still time to put these into place. 

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Our Speakers

Rebecca Mercuri

Peter Neumann 

Rebecca Mercuri earned an M.S. degree from Drexel University and received M.S.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the founding President of Notable Software, Inc. where, since 1998, she performs forensic investigations and provides expert testimony for criminal defense and civil legal matters. Cases have included contraband, cybersecurity, elections, financial fraud and intellectual property. Her website is considered a primary reference for information related to electronic voting and vote counting. An early and tireless advocate for the necessity of transparently tabulated Voter Verified Paper Ballots, Rebecca has spoken before the House Science Committee, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Election Assistance Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, the U.K. Cabinet, and numerous state legislatures. Her writings and work have directly influenced the wording of state, federal, and international election legislation, as well as standards and best practices. 


⁠Peter Neumann received Masters degrees in Arts and Science and a Ph.D. from Harvard, and the Dr. rer. nat. from Darmstadt. He is a Chief Scientist of the SRI International Computer Science Lab (a not-for-profit research institution), involved primarily in system trustworthiness -- including security, safety, and high assurance. Since 2010, he has been the PI for three SRI DARPA projects (jointly with the University of Cambridge), relating to the CHERI hardware-software RISC architecture for trustworthy systems, including one with formal proofs of correctness of security properties of the hardware instruction-set architecture. In the computer field since 1953, he has numerous published papers and reports. Peter is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and AAAS. In 1985, he created the ACM Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems , which he still moderates. He also served as the long-time editor and frequent author of the Inside Risks columns for the Communications of the ACM. His 1995 book, Computer-Related Risks, is still relevant today. 


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Watch Other Webinar Recordings! 

Webinar One 

⁠Responding to COVID-19 Changing the Cybersecurity Landscape 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a massive increase in cyber-attacks. In this webinar we discuss some of the measures people have taken to help those attacked while disabling some of the attacks. This is being done by companies and also by individual volunteers who have come together to create a taskforce to protect the people and institutions fighting these invisible attackers. 


Webinar Two

⁠Cyber Attacks Taking Advantage of COVID-19: Detailed Views 

In this webinar, we dive deeper into the discussion of new and evolving cybersecurity challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Webinar Three

What We Can Learn to Better Prepare for the Next One

⁠In this week's webinar, we discuss innovative methods we can use to gather a complete data set on these attacks, analysis techniques that might be useful in examining this data set and potential recommendations that will arise as a result of the analysis process, and what data is available now and why it's not enough.  We also touch on how you can get involved to help now and what we can do to prepare for the future.