In a large increase from previous elections, an estimated thirty percent of voters cast their ballot early this year. In this and other respects, the last decade has seen considerable changes in the way elections are administered. Largely due to the reforms of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and advances in information technology, innovations such as absentee-ballot tracking, early voting, and live webcasts of the vote tabulation process are making it easier than ever for voters to cast their vote and stay involved in the election process.
Whether paper or electronic, in-person or absentee, all ballots must be properly counted and secure. Created under HAVA as an independent, bipartisan clearinghouse on election administration, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) creates and maintains voluntary voting system guidelines (VVSG) to improve the security, reliability, and usability of the nation's voting systems.
To help ensure that voting systems keep pace with technology, proposed updates to the current VVSG (VVSG 1.1 Volume 1 and Volume 2) are intended to address the next generation of voting systems. The proposed guidelines contain new and expanded material in the areas of reliability and quality, usability and accessibility, security, and testing. The VVSG are recommended by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), which is chaired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and includes appointed representatives from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ANSI-accredited standards developer IEEE.
EAC also oversees a national certification program to verify that voting systems comply with the functional capabilities, accessibility, and security requirements of the VVSG. While participation by states in the certification program and adoption of the VVSG is voluntary, the guidelines do become mandatory if states formally adopt the VVSG.
To assist interested voters in locating federally certified voting systems, EAC has launched a certified voting system map indicating where all such voting systems are being used. The map allows users to access key information about EAC-certified voting systems, test reports issued during the certification process, and any advisory alerts issued by EAC.
ANSI encourages all U.S. citizens to exercise their right to vote today.