[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 245 (Thursday, December 20, 2001)]
[Pages 65708-65710]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-31293]



[Notice 2001-19]

Voluntary Standards for Computerized Voting Systems

AGENCY: Federal Election Commission.

ACTION: Notice with request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Federal Election Commission (the ``FEC'') requests 
comments on the second draft of the revisions to the 1990 national 
voluntary performance standards for computerized voting systems and the 
first draft of the revisions to the 1990 national test standards. 
Please note that these drafts do not represent a final decision by the 
Commission. The FEC will publish a Federal Register notice when both 
volumes of the final revised standards are issued. Note also that the 
text of the final documents will not become part of the Code of Federal 
Regulations because they are intended only as guidelines for states and 
voting system vendors. States may mandate the specifications and 
procedures through their own statutes, regulations, or administrative 
rules. Voting system vendors may voluntarily adhere to the standards to 
ensure the reliability, accuracy, and integrity of their products. 
Further information is provided in the supplementary information that 

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 1, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised performance and test standards 
may be found on the Federal Election Commission's Web site at 
www.fec.gov/elections.html, or may be requested by contacting the 
Office of Election Administration, Federal Election Commission, 999 E. 
Street, NW., Washington, DC 20463. They may also be requested in person 
at the Office of Election Administration, 800 N. Capital St., NW., 
Washington, DC, Suite 600.
    All comments should be addressed to Ms. Penelope Bonsall, Director, 
Office of Election Administration, and must be submitted in either 
written or electronic form. Because no anonymous submissions will be 
considered, all submissions must include the commenter's full name, 
postal mail address, and electronic mail address if submitted by e-
mail. Written comments should be sent to the Office of Election 
Administration, Federal Election Commission, 999 E. Street, NW., 
Washington, DC 20463. Faxed comments should be sent to (202) 219-8500, 
although it is advisable to send a printed copy to ensure legibility. 
Comments can be submitted electronically to [email protected]. It is 
suggested that electronic comments that are submitted as attachments 
use Microsoft Word and that all comments avoid the use of special 
characters or encryption. Comments can be submitted through the close 
of business on February 1, 2002

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Penelope Bonsall, Director, Office 
of Election Administration, 999 E. Street, NW., Washington, DC 20463; 
Telephone: (202) 694-1095; Toll free (800) 424-9530, extension 1095.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 1990, the FEC and its Office of Election 
Administration promulgated standards for computerized election 
equipment pursuant to its responsibilities under 2 U.S.C 438(a)(10), 
which requires the FEC to ``serve as a national clearinghouse for the 
compilation and review of procedures with respect to the administration 
of Federal elections.'' The resulting product is the Voting System 
Standards (the ``Standards'').

[[Page 65709]]

Although voluntary, the Standards have been adopted in 38 states in 
whole or in part and are used to design systems and procure equipment 
to meet the needs of diverse jurisdictions serving a wide variety of 
voting populations and election formats.
    The Standards are designed to provide technical specifications and 
documentation requirements to vendors that intend to sell systems in 
the states that require compliance with the Standards. In order to show 
compliance, a vendor must submit its system for qualification testing. 
The qualification testing is done through an Independent Testing 
Authority (``ITA'') that has been certified by the National Association 
of State Election Directors (``NASED''). Once a system has completed 
the ITA process, it receives a NASED Qualified identification number. 
In order to maintain its status as a NASED qualified system, the 
hardware and software must be identical to the hardware and software 
tested by the ITA.
    The Standards are designed to guide development of computerized 
voting systems. To this extent, the only voting systems that are 
addressed in the Standards are electronic DRE systems and paper-based 
systems that utilize electronic technology to count ballots. The 
Standards do not address lever machines systems, as there are currently 
no manufacturers that design systems using such machines.
    Periodic revisions to the Standards are necessary to reflect the 
development of emerging technology in voting systems and design 
innovations. Increasingly, voting system vendors are designing systems 
that use electronic and telecommunications components not addressed in 
the original standards. As a result, proposed revisions have been 
developed by the FEC that reflect the technologies contemplated by the 
voting system industry. Also, the Standards acknowledge the impact of 
the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide specifications so that 
voting system vendors can design systems that allow a voter with a 
disability to exercise his or her democratically protected right to 
    Additionally, the revised Standards incorporate a broadened 
understanding of what constitutes a voting system by including not just 
the machine used by voters to cast ballots, but also certain components 
of the Election Management System (EMS), the telecommunications system 
(where applicable), and the ballot counting system. The revised 
Standards augment the requirements for the EMS, addressing preparation 
of the ballot, election-specific coding of software, and vote 
consolidation and reporting processes. The Standards do not provide 
guidance to computerized election database systems that are not part of 
the voting system itself. Such systems include voter registration 
databases and other consolidated databases used by election officials. 
The FEC's Office of Election Administration has produced other 
documents, available upon request, that can assist election officials 
and other interested parties in developing and maintaining such 
    The FEC recognizes that human interface considerations are an 
integral part of developing an accurate, reliable voting system. The 
FEC has allocated funds to investigate human factors issues and is 
developing specifications that can be used in conjunction with both the 
Standards and other FEC operational and management guidelines to ensure 
that human factors considerations are given an important place in the 
development and procurement of voting systems.
    The 1990 Standards were released as a single volume. However, the 
new Standards are divided into two volumes, both included in this 
release. Volume I provides functional and technical requirements for a 
number of system types and configurations. Volume II provides testing 
specifications for the requirements of Volume I.
    On July 10, 2001, the Commission published a Federal Register 
notice requesting comments on the first draft of Volume I of the 
revised Standards. 66 FR 35978. Public comment was significant in both 
volume and content. Over 350 comments from over 40 commentators 
provided ideas and approaches to the Standards that greatly enhance 
their use by vendors, election officials, and voters. Because of this 
feedback, substantive changes were made to Volume I and a second draft 
of this document is being released for additional public comment. 
Although many of the comments on Volume I were helpful in devising the 
content of Volume II, this will be the first opportunity for the public 
to comment on its specific content.
    The documents released with this notice include an Overview 
document, Volume I of the Standards (containing nine sections and three 
appendices), and Volume II of the Standards (containing seven sections 
and four appendices). The overview document explains in detail the 
history of the Standards project, provides a description of how the 
Standards fit into the election vending process, and gives an 
explanation of the reasoning behind the inclusions and exclusions of 
various systems, requirements, and test methods. Volume I of the 
Standards contains functional requirements (Section 2) that outline 
system benchmarks. The Standards also anticipate an increased demand 
for equipment that meets the needs of people with disabilities. In 
order to address these needs, the FEC consulted with the Access Board, 
the federal agency that developed access guidelines for federal 
information technology, to produce specific requirements to help guide 
vendors in the development of systems that increase accessibility to 
voters with disabilities (Section 2.6).
    The Standards provide specific requirements for system software 
(Section 3) and hardware (Section 4). Additionally, the Standards 
anticipate that voting systems will move increasingly towards the use 
of telecommunications to cast ballots, consolidate vote data, and 
report results. As such, two sections of Volume I of the Standards 
outline requirements to guide selection of proper telecommunications 
equipment (Section 5) and ensure that the introduction of 
telecommunications equipment does not compromise the security and 
secrecy demanded by the election process (Section 6). Section 6 also 
addresses security and secrecy requirements for a voting system's 
software, hardware, and administrative procedures (as specified by the 
    Volume I of the Standards also provides information on quality 
assurance (Section 7) and configuration management issues (Section 8). 
These sections are tailored towards the unique needs of the election 
system industry, and are designed to provide guidance in sound 
management practices without posing an undue burden on small companies 
that have traditionally formed the backbone of the election system 
    Section 9 of Volume I of the Standards provides an introduction and 
overview to the testing process necessary for a system to be qualified. 
The testing processes and specifications themselves are found in the 
body of Volume II.
    Ultimately, the Standards are only a component of the necessary 
steps to ensure reliable, accurate, and secure elections. A qualified 
system has passed certain benchmarks for accuracy and reliability, but 
this is not sufficient to ensure overall system reliability unless 
jurisdictions who purchase the system use sound procurement and 
management practices to ensure that the system's security, accuracy, 
and reliability are protected during the election cycle itself. Because 
such practices are related to the actions of

[[Page 65710]]

voting officials rather than vendors, they are clearly outside the 
scope of the Standards. However, the Standards mandate a significant 
amount of disclosure from vendors in order to provide a clear 
understanding to election officials of how the system can be optimally 
    The FEC invites all interested parties to submit comments. It is 
requested that each commenter indicate if he or she is willing to 
appear before the Commission. The FEC asks that, where appropriate, 
submitted comments reference the specific sections of the Standards 
that are germane to the submitted comment. Additionally, the FEC 
requests that comments regarding specific content be accompanied by 
specific suggestions for alterations to language or technical 
specifications, so that the Commission may consider changes that best 
reflect the intent of the commenter. Comments suggesting the use of 
alternate industry standards should provide the standard industry 

    Dated: December 14, 2001.
Karl Sandstrom,
Commissioner, Federal Election Commission.
[FR Doc. 01-31293 Filed 12-19-01; 8:45 am]