United States Election Assistance Comittee

The EAC Official Blog

Posted By EAC Staff on July 19, 2011

EAC recently launched the Election Exchange, an online tool for election officials to connect and share best practices and knowledge. So far, 50 election officials have signed up, and they have a wide range of experience and expertise in pre and post election activities, contingency planning, poll workers and voting systems. Based on feedback, we will add a field allowing participants to identify themselves as city, county or state officials. We are also exploring how to improve the keyword search and make the tool more intuitive. Keep the comments coming here or use the Contact Us form. We need and want your input!

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Posted By EAC Staff on July 18, 2011

There are lots of acronyms used in specialized professions and by government agencies that make it difficult for the public to access public documents and discussions. Federal elections are no exception -- for example you'll hear us talk about NRVA and HAVA. We realize acronyms make us sound very bureaucratic. And while we can't promise we'll stop using them, we can make sure you know what we're talking about when we refer to the VVSG and the VSTLs. We've put together a list of greatest acronym hits in federal elections. Let us know what you think!

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Posted By EAC Staff on June 27, 2011

The voting system certification process is complex and varies depending on the type of system and other circumstances. Describing it can be a challenge, so EAC staff came up with a hypothetical situation – a fictional voting system, ElecTab, manufactured by a fictional company, Tabulate Inc., and wrote about it in the 2011 IFES Guide.

The article written by EAC staff follows ElecTab through the entire process, beginning with EAC’s recommendation that Tabulate, Inc. perform pre-submission testing to verify that ElecTab conforms to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. EAC recommends that manufacturers take these preliminary steps which will save time and money by making sure that they will be prepared for EAC’s rigorous process, which has four components:

  • Pre-testing
  • Certification testing
  • Grant of certification
  • Post certification compliance

Read the article to find out more about how EAC conducts conformity assessment testing for voting systems, a process EAC calls the Voting System Testing and Certification Program.

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Posted By EAC Staff on June 21, 2011

EAC staff recently conducted a training class with election officials about security. Topics included risk management, physical security and computer security.

We spent a lot of time talking about authentication mechanisms used in the field of information security. For elections, authentication may be used for staff access to buildings and warehouses as well as computer systems. Authentication examples include handwritten signatures, employee access cards, fingerprints, DNA and digital signatures. Although this is not an exhaustive list, we recommend the following when establishing passwords:

  • Do not use default passwords!
  • Use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Use different passwords for different people.
  • Use different passwords for different elections.
  • No names or dictionary words. Example: JoshElection4.
  • Randomness is key.
  • At least 8 characters.

For more information, read EAC’s Election Management Guidelines chapters about system security, physical security, chain of custody procedures, acceptance testing and technology in elections. Also check out the security requirements in the next iteration of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. It’s a draft, but you’ll find lots of information about voting system security.

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Posted By EAC Staff on June 08, 2011

That’s easy – look at the voting system’s certification documents -- the Certificate of Conformance and the Scope of Certification. They contain the EXACT specifications for the voting system that was certified by EAC, including the official name of the system and the testing standard. Categories and examples of specifications covered:

  • System component (scanner, ballot marking device)
  • Software (COTS, voting counting logic)
  • Hardware (COTS, monitors, scanners, printers)
  • Operating system (Windows, Linux, Unix)

The Scope includes the voting system limitations, such as the maximum number of contests or ballot styles the system can handle. Also included is a list of items that are unique to the voting system, such as whether it can print precinct level reports. There’s a functionality checklist and a chronicle of any engineering change orders that were included with the voting system. Graphic depictions of the system are also available. The Certificate of Conformance and the Scope of Certification for every EAC certified voting system is available here.

Look for the EAC certification seal!



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Posted By EAC Staff on June 03, 2011

Election laws and procedures vary across the nation just as the scenery, cuisine and customs vary from one state to another—each one is unique. EAC’s new report, the 2010 Statutory Overview, brings together in one report state laws and procedures about voter registration and eligibility, election counting and reporting, provisional voting, voter ID, post-election audits, and polling place operations. In addition, EAC has also released the accompanying state data sets so the public can mine the data and share it with others. Read the report now, and be sure to share your comments on this blog post, or in our Resource Library comment tool.

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