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4/13/2009
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NIST Issues Guidelines For E-Voting Machines

Standards body plans to take public comments on the draft until July 1.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a new draft of voluntary federal standards for electronic voting machines.

NIST announced last week that it will take public comment on the new methods until July 1. Once the standards are adopted, state and local governments will decide whether their voting machine manufacturers will be required to meet the guidelines.

Manufacturers currently use various proprietary laboratory testing techniques. NIST said that one transparent set of tests will improve government and voter confidence, while also giving manufacturers an improved understanding of how to ensure that their systems comply with federal standards.

"These new tests will ensure that everyone is on the same page for testing electronic voting systems," Lynne Rosenthal, manager of the NIST voting project, said in a statement. "This will not only benefit the general public and the government, but also they will help manufacturers build voting systems that meet federal standards."

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 directed NIST to work with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to create voluntary standards for receiving federal certification from the EAC.

The current guidelines are known as VVSG 2005. The latest draft guidelines are called VVSG Next Iteration (VVSG-NI). They address hardware, usability, and security issues.

For example, the draft guidelines would call for machines to operate in temperatures ranging from 5 to 40 degrees Celsius. If they are adopted, manufacturers would be required to enclose their systems in test chambers and check for malfunctions at specific temperatures and humidity levels.

The electronic voting machine guidelines are posted on NIST's Web site.


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