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July 13, 2007

UMBC Student in Global Contest for Most Trustworthy and Accurate Voting System

“VoComp” Offers International Research Teams Over $10,000 in Prizes from Voting & Tech Firms

CONTACT: Chip Rose, UMBC News

PORTLAND, Oregon – Four teams of researchers from the U.S., Canada, Poland and the U.K. face off July 16-18 at the Portland Hilton in the finals of the VoComp University Voting Systems Competition, a global search to make voting machine technologies more trustworthy and accurate. The first-of-its-kind competition is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the voting technology company Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) and Hewlett-Packard (HP). The winning team will receive a $10,000 grand prize provided by ES&S along with other prizes from HP.

UMBC computer science graduate student Rick Carback is a member of Punchscan (, a team that also includes members from George Washington University and the University of Ottawa. Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury will give introductory remarks at VoComp and will invite attendees at the National Association of Secretaries of States annual summer meeting (held at the same venue) to visit the competition.

VoComp marks the first time a major voting company has supported this type of open-ended academic research. “VoComp is stimulating innovation and student involvement in the technology of democracy.” said Alan Sherman, a professor of computer science at UMBC and the organizer of VoComp.

In the spirit of transparent democracy, each of the four finalist voting systems is open-source, meaning the computer code is published and thus able to be verified as secure and improved upon, similar to the popular grassroots computer operating system Linux.

“This is something that has been called for by many but not realized until now,” Sherman said. “The competition framework also serves to demonstrate what may be a better way to vet and choose voting systems,” said Sherman, who also teaches a course on electronic voting systems.

At the competition finals, each team will carry out a mock election and critique the other systems in front of the judges. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Three of the VoComp systems are based on a new, end-to-end (e2e) secure technology, which enables each voter to verify that his or her vote was correctly recorded and tabulated. This new technology promises to increase assurance in voting results compared to popular paper trail technologies such as precinct-count optical scan.

The VoComp conference will also offer the introductions of several other new voting technologies from some of the top academic and corporate researchers in the field. For more info please visit

Posted by crose at July 13, 2007 3:13 PM