Online clearinghouse for voting-system information opens

The Election Assistance Commission has posted the first report to its online clearinghouse for voting-system information ' the findings of California's recent top-to-bottom review of previously approved systems.
EAC Chairwoman Donetta Davidson called the report 'an important first step in building a national clearinghouse of voting-system reports that have been conducted by states and counties.' She added that 'we encourage election officials throughout the nation to participate by submitting the reviews they've conducted."

The site is part of EAC's mandate under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to serve as a national clearinghouse for information from state and local governments about their experiences in operating voting systems. It was developed under a policy adopted in August, which also covers sharing information on the states' implementation of the voluntary voting-system guidelines. Those guidelines give states a standard for certifying voting-system hardware and software, and the EAC also accredits independent laboratories to do the testing. Although voluntary, a majority of states have adopted some form of federal standards for certification.

Under the clearinghouse policy, the EAC posts only reports or studies conducted by or for a state or local government. As part of the submission to the EAC, the state or local government must certify that the report or study accurately reflects their experience.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced her decisions Aug. 3 on the certification of three of the most widely used voting systems in the state, imposing stiff restrictions on the use of electronic-voting machines in the state's 2008 primary elections.

In March, Bowen ordered a top-to-bottom review by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley of the eight electronic voting systems used in the state. Four vendors did not submit their systems for review and so are out of the game. One vendor did not submit its system in time, but it still could be reviewed and certified for use. The remaining three systems were from Diebold, Hart InterCivic and Sequoia. Reviewers found many serious flaws in the software and its implementation in the voting systems, and all three were recertified with conditions all but banning two from the polling places in February.

The Voting System Reports Clearinghouse is administered by the EAC's Testing and Certification Program, the first federal voting-system certification program. For information on voting-system test labs, registered voting-system manufacturers, voting systems that have been submitted for testing, test plans, notices of clarification and other program-related information, visit www.eac.gov.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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