University of Pittsburgh
May 3, 2018

Pitt Cyber Forms Commission to Protect and Secure Pennsylvania’s Vote

Non-partisan group includes judicial, law enforcement and privacy expertise

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber) today announced the formation of the independent, non-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security.

The blue ribbon commission is led by Pitt Cyber Founding Director David Hickton and Grove City College President Paul McNulty. It also includes additional commissioners representing key constituencies and areas of expertise. The full list of commissioners can be found below.

“Our country’s elections are at risk. The threat of cyber-enabled interference in our elections cannot be ignored,” said Hickton. “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. We must secure Pennsylvania’s vote.”

The commission will conduct research surrounding three crucial issues:

  1. Cybersecurity of voting machines, tabulation and storage;
  2. Cybersecurity of voter registration, rolls and databases; and
  3. Resiliency and recovery of Pennsylvania’s electoral system following a potential breach.

The commission will present a report of findings to the public in 2019 that provides recommendations to local and state elected officials to better secure the state’s elections in advance of the general elections in 2020.

“This is precisely the type of effort needed to drive public and policymaker attention to a fundamental issue — the security of Pennsylvania’s vote. The recommendations of this non-partisan and independent commission will be a road map for Pennsylvania election officials, as well as a model for other states,” McNulty said.

Pitt Cyber received a grant from The Heinz Endowments to support the formation of the commission. The commission is staffed by Pitt Cyber and receives additional technical advice from Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute and voting transparency nonprofit Verified Voting.

“The safeguarding of electoral security is central to our democratic processes, locally and nationally, and to the preservation and advancement of civic society,” said Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments and member of the commission.

The commission encourages public comment to inform its work. Comments can be submitted on Pitt Cyber’s website at

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security

  • David Hickton, co-chair – Founding director, Pitt Cyber; former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Paul McNulty, co-chair – President, Grove City College; former deputy attorney general of the United States; former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Jim Brown – Former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.; former chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey
  • Esther L. Bush – President and CEO, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Mary Ellen Callahan – Former chief privacy officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Susan Carty – President, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
  • Nelson A. Diaz – Retired judge, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
  • Jane Earll – Attorney; former Pennsylvania state senator
  • Douglas E. Hill – Executive director, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
  • Mark A. Holman – Partner, Ridge Policy Group; former deputy assistant to the president for homeland security; former chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge
  • Ken Lawrence – Vice chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
  • Mark A. Nordenberg – Chair of the Institute of Politics, University of Pittsburgh; Chancellor Emeritus of the University; Distinguished Service Professor of Law
  • Grant Oliphant – President, The Heinz Endowments
  • Peri Jude Radecic – CEO, Disability Rights Pennsylvania
  • Pedro A. Ramos – President and CEO, The Philadelphia Foundation
  • James C. Roddey – Former chief executive, Allegheny County
  • Marian Schneider – President, Verified Voting; former Pennsylvania deputy secretary of state for elections and administration
  • Bobbie Stempfley – Director, CERT Division, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
  • David Thornburgh – President and CEO, Committee of Seventy
  • Sharon Werner – Former chief of staff to U.S. attorneys general Eric H. Holder Jr. and Loretta E. Lynch
  • Dennis Yablonsky – Former CEO, Allegheny Conference on Community Development; former Pennsylvania secretary of community and economic development

Senior Advisers

  • Charlie Dent – U.S. congressman, 15th District of Pennsylvania
  • Paul H. O’Neill – former secretary of the U.S. Treasury
  • Dick Thornburgh – Former governor, Pennsylvania; former attorney general of the United States; former undersecretary general of the United Nations

*Affiliations are provided for identification purposes. Commissioners are serving in their personal capacities.