ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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ANSI Makes a Strong Case for the Use of Voluntary Standards Process in Election Reform

FEC " Enthusiastic" to Work With the Institute

Washington, DC, Feb 07, 2002

Members of the ANSI Federation presented a strong case to government officials and a representative from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for the use of the voluntary standards process in election reform. The FEC staff person stated that the agency was "enthusiastic" to work with the Institute in this area.

ANSI members and ANSI-accredited standards developers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), joined David Karmol, ANSI director of public policy and government affairs, on January 31 at the Workshop on Election Standards and Technology (WEST 2002), which was sponsored by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Held in Washington, DC and attended by federal government representatives from the Department of Justice, the FEC and the Congressional Research Service, the workshop participants also included several state and local election officials as well as academics and representatives of firms supplying voting machines and related technology. The FEC representative, Ms. Bonsall, director of the FEC Office of Election Administration, was optimistic that election reform legislation would pass the Congress this Spring. Bonsall stated that the FEC was "enthusiastic" to work with ANSI in developing effective and useful standards to cover the many issues that are relevant to the upgrading of voting systems throughout the country. [Editor's note: Currently, two bills dealing with election reform are pending in the U.S. Senate and it is likely that a bill reflecting some elements of each will be taken up by the full Senate sometime in February or March. A comparison of the two bills is available from David Karmol, at For additional information on the Institute's role in election reform standards, please see the ANSI Online News story, "Congress Calls Upon ANSI and NIST to Strengthen America's Voting System."]

According to Karmol whose presentation pointed out the benefits of American National Standards (ANS) procedures and the process by which government adoption of voluntary standards is achieved, "It was clear that almost all present appreciated that the recently released, revised FEC Voting System Standards (VSS, available on the web at are a step forward from the 1990 guidelines published by the FEC. On the other hand, the guidelines have only been adopted by 36 states, and do not cover a number of significant issues that became apparent during the 2000 election, including the interface between the voting device and the voter, administrative issues relating to qualifying absentee voters, and issues relating to registration, and the integrity of registration lists."

Also present at the workshop was a spokesman from IEEE, an organization currently developing standards for election system engineering and voting technology equipment. IEEE reported that it had begun an ANS "Standard for the Evaluation of Voting Equipment" (BSR/IEEE 1583-200x) and had signed up 135 persons from diverse backgrounds to participate in the development of the standard.

In addition, a UL representative explained that the association had developed a number of ANS documents in the areas of security and theft prevention, and had expertise in testing such products. The representative indicated that this expertise and background was a resource available to the elections technology community, and invited them to take advantage of UL's abilities.

"The workshop served a useful purpose in bringing together many individuals who were focused on improving the voting and elections process," Karmol commented, "and helped all present to realize the complexity and difficulty of improving this process, which is a critical component to our democratic system of government."

In 1975, Congress created the FEC to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) - the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.

IEEE helps advance global prosperity by promoting the engineering process of creating, developing, integrating, sharing and applying knowledge about electrical and information technologies and sciences for the benefit of humanity and the profession.

UL is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization that has tested products for public safety for more than a century. Since its founding in 1894, it has been a leader in product safety testing and certification within the United States.

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