ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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First Laboratories Earn Accreditation to Test Nation’s Voting System Equipment

New York, Feb 26, 2007

In the ongoing drive for accuracy and reliability in our nation’s voting system, two laboratories recently earned accreditation by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to test and certify voting systems equipment and software against federal standards, known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, or VVSG.

The accredited laboratories—iBeta Software Quality Assurance and SysTest Labs—will evaluate electronic and electromechanical voting system equipment against the 2002 Voting System Standards and the 2005 VVSG. As the latest iteration of the nation’s voting systems guidelines—the VVSG 2007—is implemented, voting system equipment will be required to comply with these standards [See related article: Recommendations for Future Voting System Guidelines Herald Significant Changes].

The VVSG were developed by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a group selected from various standards boards to support the EAC in modernizing voting system technology. 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).

The labs were evaluated by NIST’s National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), under which laboratories are required to meet the International Standard, ISO/IEC 17025, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories. NIST recommended accreditation of the two laboratories in January; the EAC approved them on February 21, 2007, after evaluating non-technical issues such as conflict-of-interest policies and organizational structure.

Formed under charter by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), the EAC is an independent bipartisan agency that serves as a national clearinghouse with respect to the administration of federal elections. Certification was previously coordinated by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED); however, responsibility moved to the EAC in 2006.

While the system guidelines and participation in the certification program are voluntary, the EAC reports that the thirty-nine states that required NASED certification will likely require certification under the new program. Now that the voting system testing and certification program is in place, the EAC expects a number of voting systems to be submitted in anticipation of the 2008 national election. Three companies have already registered with the EAC to submit systems.

The EAC will institute a monitoring program to ensure that voting systems used in the field are the same voting systems that have been certified. The EAC will also track problems with voting systems reported in elections, but will not be able to conduct reviews of systems in the field without the invitation and permission of local election officials.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative