Voting system dropped from EAC certification program

A Texas maker of electronic voting systems has decided to forego certification of its product under the federal Election Assistance Commission's certification program.

Advanced Voting Solutions told EAC in October that it did not plan to continue the testing process and EAC on Nov. 27 notified the company it has been dropped from the program. It would have to reapply for certification if it intends to pursue certification to federal guidelines. AVS apparently was surprised by the cost of the testing and certification process, believing that an earlier certification of its AVS WINWare 2.0.4 under an unrelated state-run program would carry over and it would not have to start from scratch in the EAC program.

EAC certification is voluntary and there are several standards under which a voting system can be certified. Many states do require certification, however, and failure to certify could put the company's systems at a disadvantage at a time when electronic voting is undergoing a great deal of public scrutiny.

EAC was formed in the wake of the disputed 2000 presidential election to help avoid a repetition of those problems. One of its responsibilities was to take over the certification of voting systems, electronic and otherwise, which until that time had been managed by state election officials.

Currently, voting systems can be certified under a set of standards developed in 2002 by the Federal Election Commission or under voluntary guidelines adopted by EAC in 2005. The FEC standards will be dropped at the end of this year, although systems certified under them will retain their certifications. EAC is updating its 2005 guidelines and has released a draft version for public review.

EAC, with the assistance of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, accredits independent laboratories to do certification testing.

In an unrelated mater, the commission has added a second report to its online clearinghouse for voting-system information. Kentucky's attorney general has submitted its Election Voting Systems and Certification Process Report for inclusion in the Voting System Reports Clearinghouse.

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.

The first report was submitted to the clearinghouse in September. That was the findings of California's recent top-to-bottom review of previously approved systems. As a result of that review, California's attorney general placed stiff restrictions on the use of three popular voting systems that were found to have serious security flaws.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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