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Election Security Forum Happening at Appalachian State on November 1

By Nathan Ham

A special forum will be taking place on Friday that will include information sharing and discussion about the worrisome issue of election security, particularly in North Carolina.

The forum will take place from 3-5 p.m. at the Gordon Gathering Hall inside the Reich College of Education Building, located at 151 College Street. The event is co-sponsored by Appalachian State’s Department of Computer Science and the Department of Government and Justice Studies.

99 percent of the votes tallied across the country will be done either on computers or by using the paper ballot-scanning machines, meaning that making sure these computer systems are modern and secure.

According to information provided by Dr. Ray Russell, who will moderate the forum, the federal government recently allocated $250 million to make these systems secure.

There will be three speakers at the forum who have a vast amount of knowledge of the subject of elections and election security.

Dr. Duncan Buell is known nationally as an expert in election equipment security. Dr. Buell has a PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He previously taught computer science at LSU and worked on high-performance computing and computational mathematics at the Institute for Defense Analyses in support of the National Security Agency. He is now a Professor of Computer Science at the University of South Carolina and was chair of that department for nine years. He has research interests in electronic voting, digital humanities, text analysis, and computer science education. Recently, he was appointed to the Commission on Voter Registration and Elections of Richland County, home to Columbia, SC, state government, and the University of South Carolina.

Bob Phillips is the Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina (CCNC). Mr. Phillips’ work with CCNC includes his advocacy for voting rights, ending gerrymandering, lobbying and ethics reform and regulating big-money politics. He also helped initiate CCNC’s outreach to North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which seeks to boost civic engagement among young people of color. Within the last year, Common Cause has been the named plaintiff in landmark lawsuits successfully challenging North Carolina’s legislative and congressional maps for partisan gerrymandering. Mr. Phillips has been a leading witness in these lawsuits. For the past 20 years, he has worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to build bi-partisan support for elections and redistricting reform.

The final speaker at the forum is Dr. Stella Anderson. She is a Professor in the Department of Management at Appalachian State University. Her PhD is from Purdue University and her academic interests include work-life balance, leadership, management pedagogy, and organizational citizenship behavior. She was a member of the Watauga County Board Elections 2005-2013 and was appointed to the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement in March 2018, and then to the reconstituted North Carolina State Board of Elections in January 2019.

The forum is anticipated to last about two hours and will feature statements from all three individuals followed by a Q&A session with audience members. Appalachian State faculty, students and staff as well as the general public are encouraged to attend this event and gain some knowledge on one of the major threats to the country’s voting system.