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Draft Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Delivered to EAC PDF  | Print |  Email
By Election Assistance Commission   
September 06, 2007

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has received a draft of the next iteration of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) prepared by its Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). The draft VVSG, prepared by TDGC with the help of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is available here.


"We thank our colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as the members of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee for their hard work, and we will continue to rely on their expertise," said EAC Chair Donetta Davidson. "We want as much input as possible, so I encourage the public to read these guidelines and share your ideas with us."


In addition to the draft being posted on the Web site, in the next two weeks EAC will launch an online comment tool, which will enable the public to post and view comments.

One of EAC's most important mandates under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is the testing, certification, decertification and recertification of voting system hardware and software. The VVSG provide a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they provide all the basic functionality, accessibility and security capabilities required of voting systems. According to HAVA, adoption of the VVSG at the state level is voluntary. However, states may formally adopt the VVSG, making these guidelines mandatory in their jurisdictions.


The draft document delivered by the TDGC is a complete re-write of the 2005 guidelines, containing new and expanded material including in the areas of reliability and quality, usability and accessibility, security, and testing. The draft guidelines prohibit RF wireless, address software independence and include improved requirements for the overall reliability of voter verifiable paper audit trail voting systems. The TGDC document serves as a recommendation to the EAC. The EAC is responsible for seeking public input, considering advice from its advisory boards and performing an internal review of the TGDC draft. To ensure maximum public input and transparency, there will be four phases leading to the adoption of a final version:


Phase I - EAC will submit the TGDC's draft document to the Federal Register and provide a public comment feature on within the next two weeks. The public comment period will last for 120 days and all comments will be made public. The TDGC draft is currently available here.


Phase II - EAC will collect and review all public comments submitted on the TDGC draft. After consideration of all public comments, the EAC will perform an internal review.


Phase III - Based upon public comment and internal review of the TDGC document, the EAC will develop and publish its draft version in the Federal Register. The public will have another 120 days to comment on the EAC draft version. EAC will conduct public hearings about its draft version.


Phase IV - EAC will collect and review all comments submitted and make final modifications. The final version of the VVSG will be adopted by vote of the commission at a public meeting and then published in the Federal Register.


History of Voting System Standards and Guidelines


The first set of national voting system standards was created in 1990 by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In 2002, the FEC updated the standards. With the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), EAC was assigned the responsibility of updating these standards, which would be known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. HAVA also instructed the EAC, along with its Federal advisory committee, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to work to develop the VVSG.


On December 13, 2005, EAC adopted the VVSG. Before the adoption of the VVSG, EAC conducted a thorough and transparent public comment process. After conducting an initial review of the draft VVSG, EAC released the two-volume proposed guidelines for public comment for a period of 90 days; during this period, EAC received more than 6,000 comments. Each comment was reviewed and considered before the document was finalized and adopted. The EAC held public hearings about the VVSG in New York City, NY; Pasadena, CA; and Denver, CO.

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