Experts recommend 4 key priorities Texas must take to secure voting


David Ruth

Experts recommend 4 key priorities Texas must take to secure voting

HOUSTON — (May 21, 2018) — With Texas poised to soon receive $23.3 million in federal funding earmarked specifically for improving election security, Rice University computer scientist Dan Wallach and eight academic colleagues in Texas have outlined in a letter to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Keith Ingram, director of the Elections Division in the secretary’s office, “reasonable, but critical, measures that Texas must undertake to make its elections more secure and reliable.”

Dan Wallach“An accurate, secure election system is — and absolutely must be — a nonpartisan goal,” said Wallach, professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering and a Rice Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. “Nothing could be more critical to our American democracy or to Texans’ faith in the elections process.”

Wallach wrote that four key priorities are updated election security standards and accountability mechanisms, auditable paper trails, mandatory post-election audits and secure voter registration systems. According to the recommendation letter, the money from the federal government may be used to replace voting equipment with machines that provide a voter-verified paper record, implement a post-election audit system, upgrade election-related computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities, facilitate cybersecurity training for election officials or implement cybersecurity best practices for election systems.

Under the Texas Cybersecurity Act, the secretary of state’s office must conduct a study of cyberattacks on election infrastructure by Dec. 1. According to Wallach and his colleagues, the study must include “an investigation of vulnerabilities and risks for a cyberattack against Texas’ voting and voting registration systems, information on any attempted cyberattack on these systems and ‘recommendations for protecting a county’s voting system machines and list of registered voters from a cyberattack.’ As cybersecurity experts and Texas voters, we feel a duty to ensure that your recommendations reflect the best research and analysis of existing technology and its vulnerabilities.”

Other letter signees include Scott Aaronson, University of Texas at Austin; Chris Bronk, University of Houston; Alvaro Cardenas, University of Texas at Dallas; Guofei Gu, Texas A&M; Murat Kantarcioglu, University of Texas at Dallas; Jiang Ming, University of Texas at Arlington; Brent Waters, University of Texas at Austin; and Greg White, University of Texas at San Antonio.

Read the complete letter here. For more information or to schedule an interview with Wallach, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6327.

Media note: Wallach is teaching this summer at Stanford University and available for phone interviews only.


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Dan Wallach photo courtesy of Rice University.

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About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.