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Policy Issues

The Importance of Functional Standards to Promote Innovation in Voting System Technology

By Daniel Castro
December 11, 2007

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a committee authorized by the Help America Vote Act, has released to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) its recommended voluntary voting system guidelines (VVSG). These guidelines include significant changes that would eliminate the use of existing direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems in the majority of states if the EAC adopts their recommendations.

In this statement, delivered to the EAC at a public meeting on December 11 in Austin, TX, ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro discusses these recommended guidelines and the importance of innovation for improving our voting technology. Specifically, this statement discusses the need for functional standards, as opposed to design standards, to promote innovation in voting systems. It also finds fault with the recommendation that all voting systems be “software independent” and describes how the real goal of any voting system is to be “human independent.”

Read the full text of this statement (PDF)

Related Links

“"First Open Workshop on the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines"”:/index.php?id=89
December 6, 2007
An open forum where voting system researchers, election officials, voting equipment manufacturers, policy makers, as well as disabilities and other advocates discussed the proposed draft Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.

“"Stop the Presses: How Paper Trails Fail to Secure Electronic Voting"”:/index.php?id=79
September 18, 2007
Critics of e-voting have demanded that Congress require all electronic voting machines to have paper audit trails. In this report, ITIF analyzes the arguments made by proponents of paper audit trails and debunks the myth that paper audit trails will secure our elections. ITIF advocates that the debate over voting technology should move beyond paper audit trails to a discussion of how new innovations can dramatically improve the ease and accuracy of voting. Specifically, the report focuses on new innovations in voting machines that offer “end-to-end verifiability” and explains the cryptography behind these systems.