On May 4 2010, Ron Rivest, one of the foremost cryptographers in the world, will give a lecture on the ‘Security of Voting Systems’. The lecture will take place at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam. Rivest, also known as the ’R’ from the famous RSA public-key cryptosystem, will discuss recent trends in the reliability of voting systems and new approaches, including some based on cryptography. According to Rivest, these new developments help to resolve problems and conflicts inherent to voting processes. In addition, he will also elaborate upon new requirements being placed upon voting systems in the U.S.
The reliability of voting systems is an important issue. Not only do millions of voters need to be authenticated and millions of votes to be carefully collected, counted, and stored. There are now also millions of “voting machines’ that have to be checked on reliability. According to Rivest, voting systems have a unique requirement: “As opposed to for example the security of banking systems (where receipts are the norm), the voter should not be given a ‘receipt’. That would allow them to be coerced or bribed into voting a certain way. The lack of receipts makes the design of secure voting system much more challenging.”
Professor Rivest is the Viterbi Professor of Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One of the highlights in his work is the design of the RSA public-key cryptosystem which he invented in the seventies in cooperation with Adi Shamir and Len Adleman. Together they have been awarded the 2002 ACM Turing Award , which is generally viewed as the ‘Noble Prize in Computer Science’. Besides voting systems, Professor Rivest has research interests in cryptography, computer and network security and algorithms.
The lecture at CWI is organized by Ronald Cramer (CWI and Mathematical Institute, University Leiden), leader of the research group Cryptology at CWI. The group focuses on fundamental cryptographic questions from a broad scientific perspective, in particular mathematics, computer science and physics.
More information about the "Security of Voting Systems" lecture can be found here .