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The Score Commission Seeking Public Comment on Vols. I & II of Voting Systems Standards - FEC Press Release

News Releases

News Releases, Media Advisories

For Immediate Release
December 11, 2001


Ron Harris
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff



WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission on December 13 will issue for public comment two volumes of voluntary standards for computer-based voting systems.  When finalized next year, these systems standards will assist states in administering future elections.

The primary goal of the standards is to provide a mechanism to assure the integrity of computer-based election systems.  Although that goal has remained unchanged since 1990 (when the FEC’s Office of Election Administration first published national voluntary standards), the methods for achieving it have broadened over the last decade, with the 2000 election year creating additional impetus.

FEC Chairman Danny L. McDonald noted, “When finalized, these complementary volumes of systems standards will be an invaluable tool and guide.  To that end, I urge the public, particularly election officials and system vendors, to offer comments and suggestions so we can proceed expeditiously toward the goal of solving many of the technical problems in election administration.  By working together, we can move swiftly to provide an election-day environment ensuring the effective franchise of all voters.”

The proposed standards are intended as guidelines for states and voting system vendors, and final issuance is expected in the Spring of 2002.  Volume I is being reissued for another phase of public review after incorporating hundreds of suggestions received earlier this year.  Volume II has not been released previously and the FEC is soliciting comments from the public, vendors, elections officials, and other interested parties.  Public input is due on or before February 1, 2002.

            Highlights of the draft standards include:

            -- Revised standards provide a common set of requirements across all voting technologies, using technology-specific requirements only where essential to address the specified technology’s impact on voting accuracy, integrity, and reliability.

            -- System specific (software) standards are defined for ballot counting, vote processing, the creation of an unalterable audit trail, and the generation of output reports and files, with systems having the capability to monitor overvotes and undervotes.

            -- Performance requirements are defined for voting systems to meet the specific needs of voters with disabilities.

-- Performance requirements are defined for the content and labeling of data provided to the media and other organizations (in reports, data files, or postings to official Web sites) prior to the canvass and certification of election results.  

            -- Conclusion that controls cannot be developed at the present time to make remote Internet voting sufficiently risk-resistant to be confidently used by election officials and the voting public, therefore standards cannot be written for the testing and qualification of these systems.

            Comments are due on or before February 1, 2002, and should be directed to the Office of Election Administration, Federal Election Commission, 999 E St. NW, Washington, DC, 20463.  Faxed comments should be sent to 202-219-8500, and electronic comments to   Full text of the VSS draft standards may be found at  Paper copies and CD-ROM may be requested through the FEC Press Office.

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Advisory to Editors/Reporters/Correspondents:

           The VSS draft Notice for Comment will be addressed at Thursday’s (Dec. 13) public session of the Federal Election Commission, 999 E. St., 9th floor.  The meeting begins at 10 a.m., and this agenda item is slated for discussion at approximately 10:45 a.m.  FEC principals and others involved in the VSS Standards project will be available for questions immediately following the discussion of the VSS Notice for Comment.