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ANSI, IEEE and NIST to Provide Expertise on Voting Systems and Equipment Reform Under the "Help America Vote Act"

Technical Guidelines Development Committee will assist in development of voluntary voting system guidelines

New York, Nov 07, 2002

When voters went to the polls on Tuesday, November 5, 510 (16 percent) of the nation's counties employed electronic voting systems, up from 293 counties in the 2000 presidential election . Many expect this shift to increase in future elections as counties attempt to update their voting operations. On October 29, President Bush signed into law a new bill called the "Help America Vote Act" that will provide nearly $4 billion to states over the next three years to allow them to purchase new voting machines, train poll workers and provide computerized lists of registered voters. Prompted by problems plaguing the 2000 presidential election in Florida, the election reform bill is intended to overhaul the voting system and provide greater protection against both inadvertent mistakes and voter fraud.

The reforms will fall under the jurisdiction of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent entity created by the Act that will serve as a national clearinghouse and resource for the compilation of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of Federal elections, including administering voting standards and providing public information on issues involving election reform. The EAC will be comprised of four presidential appointees recommended by congressional leadership as mandated by Section 203(a)(2) of the Act.

As part of the EAC, a fifteen-member Technical Guidelines Development Committee will contribute technical expertise to support improvements to the voting system, with participants drawn from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ANSI-accredited standards developer The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Committee will assist in technical support of the EAC through research and development in the areas of: the security of computers, computer networks, and computer data storage used in voting systems; methods to detect and prevent fraud; protection of voter privacy; the role of human factors in the design and application of voting systems; and remote access voting, including voting through the Internet.

ANSI member IEEE has been working with Federal Election Commission (FEC) officials for several months to provide technical input for testing criteria and security of voting systems. Initial reports from the IEEE group working on development of the draft "Standard for the Evaluation of Voting Equipment" (BSR/IEEE 1583-200x) indicate that a final standard is more than a year away.

Dr. Mark Hurwitz, CAE, ANSI president and chief executive officer, explained that ANSI has been actively involved in encouraging the use of voluntary consensus standards in the election reform process since December 2000 when Institute members and staff began working with the FEC to promote the adoption of voluntary standards to improve election processes through inclusion of such standards in legislation. "We believe that voluntary standards for election reform will serve U.S. interests well because government, consumers, and industry work together to create them," Dr. Hurwitz explained. "We expect that ANSI and its network of accredited standards developers will play a critical role in election reform process by providing and promoting a process that is designed to protect the rights and interests of every participant."

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel