University President Lee Bollinger will serve as the co-chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Voting, which will lead research on issues related to voting—including technology, security, and privacy—in the United States.
Bollinger, who is a First Amendment scholar, is co-chairing the committee with Indiana University President Michael McRobbie and will be leading a group of political and social scientists, engineers, cryptographers, and other scholars in an 18-month study. The committee had its first meetings earlier this month in Washington, D.C. and will be meeting again at Columbia in June.
In addition to assessing the most recent presidential election and claims of improper voting, the committee will be looking into outdated machines, accessibility, and reliability, according to Bollinger.
“There’s nothing more central to American democracy than the ballot,” Bollinger said. “I thought the magnitude of the questions was so important that I was happy to take on the role of chair along with the president of Indiana [University].”
Based on the results of the study, the committee will offer recommendations as to how voting practices can be improved across the country in a final consensus report.
“I think [the committee] is a very important example—not by any means unique, but it’s a very important example of trying to bring academic knowledge together with the practice of something that is one of the central pillars of a democracy,” Bollinger said.