Exploring Hands-on Resources and Activities in Election Security
As the backbone of American democracy, elections, and more specifically secure elections, have an outstanding effect on our everyday lives. As both domestic and foreign cyber threats still pose significant risks for the United States, ensuring voting systems are secure and tamper-proof is critical. The overall election infrastructure is still challenged by insecure voting machines, inadequate access control, and a lack of qualified IT staff. Through our research on hands-on activities for advancing the understanding of election security, we observed an extensive lack of ready-to-use educational resources to train both the general public and aspiring election security researchers. We explored different computational resources designed to simulate and help work towards securing the election process including smart card readers and software libraries such as ElectionGuard, an open-source software development kit created by Microsoft. Throughout this process, we came across many limitations including a lack of documentation and more prominently, a challenging setup process without considerable knowledge. Our preliminary research indicates that the community needs to invest in making these types of resources more readily available and understandable for students to ensure they can help learn how to better protect our election infrastructure. While we concluded that there is a lack of resources to support an entire course, this presents us with an opportunity to fill this gap and create hands-on resources on election security to share with other institutions.
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