[Federal Register: June 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 124)]
[Page 37378-37379]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Proposed Guidance on Voluntary Voting System Guidelines

AGENCY: United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

ACTION: Notice of proposed voluntary Voting System Guidelines and 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: EAC is proposing Voluntary Voting System Guidelines pursuant 
to sections 221 and 222 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) 
which was passed by Congress to modernize the administration of Federal 
elections. This marks the first time in our nation's history that the 
Federal Government has funded an election reform effort. HAVA provides 
Federal funding to help the States meet the law's uniform and non-
discretionary administrative requirements, which include the following 
new programs and procedures: (1) Provisional voting, (2) voting 
information, (3) statewide voter registration lists and identification 
requirements for first-time registrants, (4) administrative complaint 
procedures, and (5) updated and upgraded voting equipment.
    HAVA also established the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) 
to administer the Federal funding and to provide guidance to the States 
in their efforts to comply with the HAVA administrative requirements. 
Section 202 directs the EAC to adopt voluntary voting system 
guidelines, and to provide for the testing, certification, 
decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and 
software. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide a set of 
specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be 
tested to determine if they provide all the basic functionality, 
accessibility, and security capabilities required of voting systems.
    This document, the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, is the third 
iteration of national level voting system standards. The Federal 
Election Commission published the Performance and Test Standards for 
Punchcard, Marksense and Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems in 
1990. This was followed by the Voting Systems Standards in 2002.
    As required by HAVA, EAC formed the Technical Guidelines 
Development Committee (TGDC) to develop an initial set of 
recommendations for the Guidelines. This committee of 15 experts began 
their work in July 2004 and submitted their recommendations to the EAC 
in the 9-month timeline prescribed by HAVA. The TGDC was provided with 
technical support by the National Institute for Standards and 
Technology (NIST), who was given nearly $3 million dollars by the EAC 
to complete this work. This funding represents the first time the 
Federal Government has spent a significant amount of money on setting 
guidelines for voting systems. These latest Guidelines update and 
augment the 2002 Voting Systems Standards to address increasingly 
complex voting system technology. Specifically, the 2005 Guidelines 
address the critical topics of accessibility, usability, and security. 
These Guidelines are voluntary. States may adopt them in whole, in 
part, or not at all. States may also choose to enact stricter 
performance requirements for certifying their voting systems.
    The Guidelines consist of two volumes. Volume I, entitled ``Voting 
System Performance Guidelines,'' includes new requirements for 
accessibility, voting system software distribution, system setup 
validation, and the use of wireless communications. This volume also 
includes a set of optional requirements for a Voter Verified Paper 
Audit Trail component for Direct Recording Electronic voting systems 
for use by those States that have decided to require this feature for 
their voting systems. In addition, it contains an updated glossary and 
a conformance clause. Volume II, entitled ``Voting System National 
Certification Guidelines,'' has been revised to reflect the new EAC 
process for national certification of voting systems. This process will 
go into effect in 2005 and will replace the voting system qualification 
process that has been conducted by the National Association of State 
Election Directors since 1994. Volume II also includes an updated 
appendix on procedures for testing system error rates. Terminology in 
both volumes has been revised to reflect new terminology introduced by 
HAVA. The following provides a summary of the contents of each volume.
    Volume I Summary: Volume I, the Voting System Performance 
Guidelines, describes the requirements for the electronic components of 
voting systems. It is intended for use by the broadest audience, 
including voting system developers, manufacturers and suppliers; voting 
system testing labs; state organizations that certify systems prior to 
procurement; state and local election officials who procure and deploy 
voting systems; and public interest organizations that have an interest 
in voting systems and voting system standards. It contains the 
following sections:
     Section 1 presents the objectives and usage of the 
Guidelines, definitions of types of voting systems, and a discussion of 
how the guidelines and testing specifications are applied. It also 
contains a conformance clause.
     Section 2 describes the functional capabilities required 
of voting systems.
     Sections 3 through 5 describe specific performance 
standards for election system hardware, software and 
     Section 6 is a significantly expanded section on security 
requirements for voting systems. It includes new material for the 
secure distribution of voting system software and for verifying that 
voting systems are operating with the correct software. There are also 
new requirements for the use of wireless communications. Since some 
States have decided to require a voter verified paper audit trail 
component for their direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems, 
requirements are included to support appropriate testing of these 
components. These requirements are optional because there are other 
currently available technologies besides paper audit trails that can be 
employed to provide a second method, in addition to the DRE summary 
screen, for voters to verify their ballot choices. There was 
insufficient time to develop requirements for these other technologies 
for the present Guidelines, but these technologies, including audio, 
video, and cryptographic means, will be addressed in the near future.
     Sections 7 and 8 describe requirements for vendor quality 
assurance and configuration management practices and the documentation 
required about these practices for the certification process.
     Appendix A contains a glossary of terms.
     Appendix B provides a list of documents incorporated into 
the Guidelines by reference, as well as documents used in preparation 
of the Guidelines.
     Appendix C contains best practices for election officials 
regarding accessibility, paper audit trails, and wireless.
     Appendix D presents an informational discussion of 
independent dual verification which is a concept being examined for 
potential future application to voting systems. In essence, this is a 
methodology to produce multiple independent records

[[Page 37379]]

of ballot choices for verification purposes. Voter verified paper audit 
trails do not provide independent verification because the printer 
prints from the same data source that produces the DRE summary screen 
     Appendix E contains the NASED Voting System Standards 
Board Technical Guide 1 on color and contrast adjustment for 
individuals with low vision or color blindness.
    Volume II Summary: Volume II, the Voting System National 
Certification Testing Guidelines, is a complementary document to Volume 
I. Volume II provides an overview and specific detail of the national 
certification testing process, which is performed by independent voting 
system test labs accredited by the EAC. It is intended principally for 
use by vendors, test labs, and election officials who certify, procure, 
and accept voting systems. This volume contains the following sections:
     Section 1 presents an overview of the testing guidelines 
and the national certification testing process.
     Section 2 provides a description of the Technical Data 
Package that vendors are required to submit with their system for 
certification testing.
     Section 3 describes the basic functionality testing 
     Sections 4 through 6 define the requirements for hardware, 
software and system integration testing.
     Section 7 describes the required examination of vendor 
quality assurance and configuration management practices.
     Appendix A provides the requirements for the National 
Certification Test Plan that is prepared by the voting system test lab 
and provided to the EAC for review.
     Appendix B describes the scope and content of the National 
Certification Test Report which is prepared by the test lab and 
delivered to the EAC along with a recommendation for certification.
     Appendix C describes the guiding principles used to design 
the voting system certification testing process. It also contains a 
revised section on testing system error rates.
    The format of the Guidelines is intended to facilitate ease of 
identifying new information and comparison with the 2002 Voting Systems 
Standards. New material is indicated by a gray-shaded header with the 
words ``NEW MATERIAL,'' and includes line numbers. Material essentially 
carried forward in its entirety from the 2002 Voting Systems Standards 
remains in its original format and does not include line numbers. 
Selected portions of this material have been revised to reflect the EAC 
process for voting system certification, specifically Volume I, Section 
1.6.1, and Volume II Section 1. Updates have been made throughout to 
include new terminology introduced by HAVA.
    Comments: The Voluntary Voting System Guidelines is provided for 
comment by the public for the next 90 days. All comments must be 
received by EAC on or before 5 p.m. EDT on September 30, 2005. All 
comments will posted on the EAC Web site. The EAC is provided several 
alternative methods for submitting comments.
     On-line electronic comment form at http://www.eac.gov.     By e-mail to votingsystemguidelines@eac.gov.

     By mail to Voting System Guidelines Comments, U.S. 
Election Assistance Commission, 1225 New York Ave, NW., Suite 1100, 
Washington, DC 20005.
     By fax to Voting System Guidelines Comments at (202) 566-
    EAC requests that comments be provided according to the following 
    (1) Comments regarding a particular section should be designed by 
the page, line (if included) and section number to which the comment 
    (2) Comments regarding a term that is included or that should be 
added to the glossary should reference the term and page number to 
which the comment refers.
    (3) General comments regarding the entire document or comments that 
refer to more than one section should be made as specifically as 
possible so that EAC can clearly understand to which portion(s) of the 
documents the comment refers.
    (4) To the extent that a comment suggests a change in the wording 
of a requirement or section of the Guidelines, please provide proposed 
language for the suggested change.
    To obtain a copy of the voluntary voting system guidelines: Due to 
the fact that the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines is more than 250 
pages in length, the entire documents has not been attached to this 
notice. A complete copy of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines is 
available from EAC in electronic or hard copy format. An electronic 
copy can be downloaded in PDF format or read in HTML version on EAC's 
Web site, http://www.eac.gov. In addition, interested persons may 

obtain a hard copy or CD-ROM electronic copy from EAC by contacting 
Voting System Guidelines, via fax at 202-566-3128, via e-mail at 
VotingSystemGuidelines@eac.gov, or via mail at Voting System 

Guidelines, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 1225 New York Avenue, 
NW., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005. You may also request by phone at 
(866) 747-1471. Please specify whether a hard copy or electronic copy 
is desired.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol A. Paquette, Phone (202) 566-
3125, fax (202) 566-3128, e-mail cpaquette@eac.gov.

Thomas R. Wilkey,
Executive Director, U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
[FR Doc. 05-12859 Filed 6-28-05; 8:45 am]