Non-Partisan Commission Forms To Ensure Security In Future Elections

May 7, 2018

The security of voting machines is one of the issues the non-partisan commission will examine.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A new non-partisan commission will investigate how to better secure voting machines, voter registration, and other elements of Pennsylvania's electoral system. 


The independent commission will be led by David Hickton, a former U.S. district attorney and founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security; as well as Paul McNulty, President of Grove City College. 

Hickton says the clear evidence of hacking in the 2016 presidential election makes the commission's work an urgent priority. 

"As a battleground state, Pennsylvania's election architecture is a prime target for malicious actors. The state's election security requires immediate and concerted attention," says Hickton. "We don't really know whether [Pennsylvania's] election machinery was hacked, but we do know that we possess machines that were extraordinarily vulnerable."

Hickton points to an experiment done in 2016, where computer scientists hacked voting machines in seven minutes

In February, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that new voting machines will be required to leave a paper trail, a measure which is aimed at strengthening voting machine security. 

The commission will announce its findings in 2019, ahead of the 2020 presidential election. 

In addition to Hickton and McNulty, the commission includes: 

  • Jim Brown: Former Chief of Staff to Governor Bob Casey
  • Esther L. Bush: President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Mary Ellen Callahan: Former Chief Privacy Officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Susan Carty: President of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
  • Nelson A. Diaz: Retired judge, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
  • Jane Earll: Attorney, and former state senator
  • Douglas E. Hill: Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania 
  • Mark A. Holman: Partner at Ridge Policy Group, former Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and former Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Ridge
  • Ken Lawrence: Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
  • Mark A. Nordenberg: Chair of the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Grant Oliphant: President of The Heinz Endowments
  • Peri Jude Radecic: CEO of Disability Rights Pennsylvania
  • Pedro A. Ramos: President and CEO of The Philadelphia Foundation
  • Jim Roddey: Former Chief Executive of Allegheny County
  • Marian Schneider: President of Verified Voting, former Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of State for Elections and Administration
  • Bobbie Stempfley: Director of the CERT Division at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
  • David Thornburgh: President and CEO of Committee of Seventy
  • Sharon Werner: Former Chief of Staff to U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch
  • Dennis Yablonsky: Former CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development