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Quality Digest

Standards

Standards Recommended to Election Commission

Published: Monday, October 1, 2007 - 22:00

(NIST: Gaithersburg, Maryland) -- Recommendations for new requirements to make future voting systems in the United States more “secure, reliable, and easier for all voters to use” have been submitted by an advisory panel to the Election Assistance Commission.

The recommendations are a rewrite of similar guidelines issued in 2005 by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, an advisory panel established along with the EAC by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The TGDC is chaired by the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology with technical support provided by NIST staff.

The EAC is expected to conduct public reviews of the TGDC recommendations, consider comments, and issue a final version, most likely in 2009. Voting systems will be required to meet the final guidelines to receive federal certification.

Key recommendations made by the TGDC to the EAC include guidelines that

  • Allow auditing of voting-system records independently from the voting system’s software,
  • Allow each voter to verify the accuracy of their vote before leaving the polling station,
  • Improve voting-system reliability and reduce problems with failing machines on election day,
  • Tighten security measures through digital signatures and other means to protect voting-system software against unauthorized alterations, and
  • Ensure voting systems are relatively easy to use accurately, based on the results of laboratory tests in which participants vote in mock elections.

The report describes technical requirements that voting systems would have to meet by passing tests conducted by an accredited laboratory. The EAC ultimately will decide which requirements to adopt in the final Voluntary Voting System Guideline. At that point, accredited laboratories would test voting systems for conformance to the VVSG and would submit their findings to the EAC.

The TGDC’s recommendations are called a “Voluntary Voting System Guideline” because individual states and U.S. territories determine their own election laws and are not obligated to use federally certified voting systems.

For more information, visit http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2007_0913.htm#tgdc.

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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.