In the wake of the 2020 Presidential contest, election security faces new challenges. Many voters’ confidence has been undermined by baseless conspiracy theories. At the same time, other voters have been given false assurance by misleading claims that 2020 was the “most secure election ever.” These views make it difficult to discuss the threats that elections actually face, but without further action by Congress and the states, voting will continue to be vulnerable both to real cyberattacks and to false accusations of fraud. It is essential that voters be accurately informed about real election risks, both to counter disinformation and to ensure that there is public support for badly needed reforms.
J. Alex Halderman is a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan. His research interests span security and applied cryptography, with a special focus on the interaction of technology with politics and international affairs. Among his recent projects are ZMap, Let’s Encrypt, and the TLS Logjam and DROWN vulnerabilities. Prof. Halderman has performed numerous security evaluations of real-world voting systems, both in the U.S. and around the world. He has twice testified before congress concerning election security and serves as co-chair of the State of Michigan’s Election Security Advisory Commission. In 2019, he was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for his work in strengthening election cybersecurity with evidence-based solutions, and last year, he received the University of Michigan President’s Award for National and State Leadership. Professor Halderman is the creator of “Securing Digital Democracy,” a massive, open, online course about the risks and potential of election technology that has attracted tens of thousands of participants worldwide.