News Releases, Media Advisories

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For Immediate Release
June 28, 2001

Contact:

Ron Harris
Sharon Snyder
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff

 

COMMENT SOUGHT ON UPDATE OF VOTING SYSTEMS STANDARDS

 

WASHINGTON—The Federal Election Commission (FEC) today unanimously approved for public comment a draft of Volume I of the voluntary standards for computer-based voting systems.

 

The FEC published the first national voluntary standards for computer-based voting systems in 1990.  Independent testing laboratories use these standards to test voting system hardware and software under a national program established by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED).  The FEC/NASED venture represents a unique federal/state partnership that resulted in the assessment of a number of new voting systems under the existing standards.  NASED’s experience in the testing process led the organization to ask the FEC to revise and update the standards four years ago.

 

Begun in 1999, the FEC since has accelerated its revision efforts in order to meet pressing demands of state and local governments.  Responding to these needs, special emphasis was placed on addressing the following:

 

       Accessibility - New criteria would make it easier for voters with disabilities to cast ballots and for election officials with disabilities to operate the systems without assistance.

 

       Internet Voting - New criteria would provide standards by which the accuracy, reliability, security, and voter privacy afforded by Internet voting systems could be evaluated.

 

       Feedback to Voter - Proposed criteria would expand existing provisions for offering feedback to the voter to indicate contests where an overvote or undervote is detected.

 

       Quality Assurance and Configuration Management - Additional criteria would expand current vendor reporting of internal processes for assuring voting system quality and for managing the development, testing and release of system changes.

 

The Commission plans to release draft testing requirements for comment in the fall.

            FEC Chairman Danny L. McDonald praised the collaborative efforts of the Commission’s Office of Election Administration (OEA) and the VSS board in compiling the draft, commenting, “It is important for both the public in general and election officials throughout the nation in particular, not only to study this, Volume I of the VSS, but also to participate in developing Volume II -- test standards and criteria for computerized voting.  By working together, we can help solve the technical problems experienced in our voting systems, and I believe this document is a major step toward finding those solutions.”

 

            FEC Vice Chairman David M. Mason noted, “This document points out that voting system failures are on the decline. But systems standards must be updated and implemented to hasten the day when system-failures are news primarily because those problems and failures are so rare.  As the Chairman said, this draft, and the comments received that will eventually compose Volume II, can go a long way toward that goal.”

 

Comments on the draft standards must be received no later than 60 days after the notice seeking comments has been published in the Federal Register.   Copies of the proposed standards may be found on the FEC’s website at http://www.fec.gov/pages/standardsoverview.htm, or may be requested by contacting the Office of Election Administration, 202-694-1095.  All comments should be addressed to Ms. Penelope Bonsall, Director, Office of Election Administration, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20463 and must be submitted in either written or electronic form.  Electronic mail comments should be sent to VSS@fec.gov.

 

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