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Committee Meets to Advance New Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines

New York, Apr 07, 2006

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) convened last week in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to review and refine a set of guidelines that will help to shape the future of the nation’s voting systems and election practices.

Formed under charter of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, the TGDC supports the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in modernizing voting system technology and increasing public confidence in the accuracy and reliability of voting systems. The committee’s recommended 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) received the EAC’s final approval in December. These new guidelines improve upon the previous (2002) standards by adding requirements in critical areas such as voting security, accessibility, software distribution, and the use of wireless communications in voting systems. In addition, they establish evaluation criteria for the national certification of voting systems.

During last week’s meeting, committee members considered the latest findings and recommendations of TGDC work groups examining security and transparency; human factors and privacy; and the core requirements and testing of voting systems. This led to suggestions for further refinement of the VVSG as well as recommendations to streamline and harmonize various sections of the document, remove duplicative sections; and add references to existing voluntary standards.

The new voluntary voting system guidelines will replace the 2002 standards in December 2007; individual state legislatures have the option to adopt all or part of the guidelines at an earlier date. Currently, thirty-nine states have adopted the VVSG in their voting system certification process.

“As the coordinator of the U.S. standards system, ANSI brings a perspective on how voluntary standards and systems for assuring compliance with standards can improve a complex, state-managed election system in the United States,” said David Karmol, ANSI vice president of public policy and government affairs and the Institute’s representative to the TGDC. “Having run for office myself, I appreciate the need for systems in which the public can have confidence. The TGDC is working to create a useful set of guidelines that will be attractive to state election officials and vendors of voting equipment.”

The committee includes appointed representatives from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. The TGDC is chaired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

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