Sean Peisert

ACM Distinguished Member

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Upcoming activities:

IEEE Security & Privacy (ongoing)

NSA SoS Best Paper Competition (annually, deadlines in April)

IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Practice (annually, deadlines in July)

CSET 2024 (Aug. 2024)

NSPW 2024 Sept. 16–18, 2024)

NSF Cybersecurity Summit (Oct. 7–10 2024)

IEEE S&P (Oakland) 2025 (May 12–15, 2025)



Elections and Electronic Voting

We have had a several different thrusts to our work with elections and electronic voting.

One key thrust is to explore process composition tools as applied to elections, concentrating particularly on mail-in and Internet voting. This includes exploration of how to compose systems from pre-analyzed process components, how to analyze the vulnerability of these systems to attacks, and how to guarantee that important security properties are ensured for the resulting composed system. The underlying processes represent aspects of national and local elections, their composition produces an election process, and analysis of the composition gives insight into potential errors or attacks on the election. Providing an approach for formally reasoning about human participation extends current security work. The project also breaks new ground by exploring process-based approaches for modeling and defending against attacks.

The thrust that we have examined previously looked at auditing. Election auditing verifies that the systems and procedures work as intended, and that the votes have been counted correctly. If a problem arises, forensic techniques enable auditors to determine what happened and how to compensate if possible. Complicating this is that the audit trails enabling analysis of failures may contain information that either exposes the identity of the voter (enabling voter coercion, for example); or that communicates a message to a third party (enabling vote selling). The goal of this project was to determine the information needed to assess whether the election process in general, and e-voting machines in particular, operate with the desired degree of assurance, especially with respect to anonymity and privacy.

We work closely with the Marin County Registrar of Voters' office and the Yolo County Clerk-Recorder's office.

We also collaborate closely with Lee Osterweil, Lori Clarke, George Avrunin, and their graduate students and postdocs in the LASER Lab at UMass Amherst.

Researchers at or affiliated with UC Davis who are currently involved are:

Researchers previously involved:

  • Michael Clifford (UC Davis → U.S. Government)
  • Daniel Chung (UC Davis)
  • Sophie Engle (UC Davis → University of San Francisco)
  • Jonathan Ganz (UC Davis)
  • Sophia Hannah (UC Davis)
  • Alicia Clay Jones (UC Davis/NIST → Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Bertram Ludäscher (UC Davis → UIUC)
  • Anand Sarkar (UC Davis)

Past sponsors: National Science Foundation CCF-0905503, CNS-1049738, CNS-1258577, and NIST

More information on the UMass Amherst Elections page

Artifacts and full fault trees also available at UMass Amherst's pages.

Publications resulting from this project:

"Open-Source Software Won't Ensure Election Security"
Matt Bishop, Philip Stark, Josh Benaloh, Joseph Kiniry, Ron Rivest, Sean Peisert, Joseph Hall, and Vanessa Teague
August 24, 2017. [bib]

"A Comprehensive Framework for Using Iterative Analysis to Improve Human-Intensive Process Security: An Election Example"
Leon J. Osterweil, Matt Bishop, Heather M. Conboy, Huong Phan, Borislava I. Simidchieva, George S. Avrunin, Lori A. Clarke, and Sean Peisert
ACM Transactions on Privacy and Security (TOPS), 20(2), March 2017. [DOI] [OA] [CDL]

"Insider Detection by Process Analysis"
Matt Bishop, Heather Conboy, Huong Phan, Borislava I. Simidchieva, George Avrunin, Lori Clarke, Lee Osterweil, and Sean Peisert,
Proceedings of the 2014 Workshop on Research for Insider Threat (WRIT), IEEE Computer Society Security and Privacy Workshops, San Jose, CA, May 18, 2014.

"Principles of Authentication"
Sean Peisert, Ed Talbot, and Tom Kroeger,
Proceedings of the 2013 New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW), pp. 47–56, Banff, Canada, September 9–12, 2013. [BibTeX] [DOI]

"Security and Elections"
Matt Bishop and Sean Peisert
IEEE Security and Privacy,10(5), pp. 64–67, Sept.-Oct. 2012. [BibTeX] [DOI]

"Turtles All the Way Down: A Clean-Slate, Ground-Up, First-Principles Approach to Secure Systems"
Sean Peisert, Ed Talbot, and Matt Bishop,
Proceedings of the 2012 New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW), pp. 15–26, Bertinoro, Italy, September 19–21, 2012. [BibTeX] [DOI]

"A Systematic Process-Model-Based Approach for Synthesizing Attacks and Evaluating Them"
Huong Phan, George Avrunin, Matt Bishop, Lori Clarke, and Leon J. Osterweil
Proceedings of the 2012 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/ Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (EVT/WOTE), Washinton, D.C., August 2012.

"Modeling Faults to Improve Election Process Robustness"
Borislava I. Simidchieva, Sophie J. Engle, Michael Clifford, Alicia Clay Jones, Sean Peisert, Matt Bishop, Lori A. Clarke, and Leon J. Osterweil,
Proceedings of the 2010 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/ Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (EVT/WOTE), Washinton, D.C., August 11–13, 2010. [BibTeX] [Authoritative]

"Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes? A New Paradigm for Analyzing Security Paradigms"
Sean Peisert, Matt Bishop, Laura Corriss, and Steven J. Greenwald,
Proceedings of the 2009 New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW), pp. 133–144, The Queen's College, Oxford, United Kingdom, September 8–11, 2009. [BibTeX] [DOI]

"E-Voting and Forensics: Prying Open the Black Box"
Matt Bishop, Sean Peisert, Candice Hoke, Mark Graff, and David Jefferson,
Proceedings of the 2009 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections (EVT/WOTE), Montreal, Canada, August 10–11, 2009. [BibTeX] [Authoritative]

"Vote Selling, Voter Anonymity, and Forensic Logging of Electronic Voting Machines"
Sean Peisert, Matt Bishop, and Alec Yasinsac,
Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Decision Technologies and Service Sciences Track, Digital Forensics Pedagogy and Foundational Research Activity Minitrack, Waikoloa, HI, January 5–8, 2009. (Nominated for Best Paper Award) [BibTeX] [DOI]

"Resolving the Unexpected in Elections: Election Officials' Options"
Matt Bishop, Mark Graff, Candice Hoke, David Jefferson, and Sean Peisert
October 8, 2008. [BibTeX] [CDL]
Distributed by the Center For Election Excellence and the American Bar Association.
Other Talks:

"Principles of Authentication"
Sean Peisert, Ed Talbot, and Tom Kroeger,
Proceedings of the 2014 Who are you?! Adventures in Authentication: WAY Workshop, Menlo Park, CA, July 9, 2014. [Original]
Press on this project:

American Bar Association Buzz: "Resolving the Unexpected in Elections," October 2008.

Pew Center on the States electionlineWeekly: "Resolving the Unexpected in Elections: Election Officials' Options," October 23, 2008.

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Last modified: Monday, 26-Apr-2021 15:34:03 PDT