Date of Degree

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Alan DiGaetano

Subject Categories

Other Political Science

Keywords

election policy, election infrastructure, risk management

Abstract

Why is US digital election infrastructure (DEI) in a vulnerable state and what are the possible options to better secure it? To answer these questions systematically, federal policy and current DEI are analyzed through a risk management lens, including both elite and democratic models of risk management. This analysis suggests that DEI is at risk because federal policy currently enables states to use Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines without a paper trail and allows states to manage their own risk environment with respect to digital voter registration databases (VRDs). This in turn produces significant variance in outcomes in levels of cyber security and priority of VRD governance. These factors combine to present serious vulnerabilities that could be exploited in a targeted attack during a Presidential election to disastrous consequence. As a result, policy options and potential technical improvements to DEI should be explored.

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