ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

With 2008 Election on the Horizon, New Voting System Standards Go to the Polls

New York, Sep 17, 2007

With the ramp up to the 2008 presidential election in full swing, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), an advisory panel to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), has issued a new set of recommendations aimed at improving the security, reliability, and usability of the nation’s voting systems.

The latest iteration of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), which revises those issued in 2005, contains new and expanded material in the areas of reliability, usability, accessibility, security, and testing. The TGDC and EAC were established under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) in response to balloting issues during the 2000 presidential election.

Did You Know?

  • The first set of national voting system standards was created in 1990 by the Federal Election Commission.
  • The TGDC’s recommendations are known as “Voluntary Voting System Guidelines” because individual states and U.S. territories determine their own election laws, and are not obligated to use voting systems that have received federal certification.
  • States may formally adopt the VVSG, making these guidelines mandatory in their jurisdictions.

The draft VVSG detail requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they provide basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities. Key new recommendations include guidelines that allow voters to verify the accuracy of their vote before leaving the polling station, as well as the use of digital signatures and other tightened security measures to protect voting system software against unauthorized alterations. The new guidelines also bar the use of radiofrequency (RF) wireless for voting systems, and include requirements to improve the reliability of voter verifiable paper audit trail voting systems.

Within the coming days the EAC is expected to launch an online comment tool that will enable the public to post and view comments on the new draft VVSG. Details are available at

Because formal approval of the VVSG requires a four-step process (two four-month comment periods with two potential rewrites), the new version is not likely to go into effect until 2009.

The TGDC 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 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

ANSI Focus on Services Standards