Voting System Certification Documents

Voting System Certification Documents

The United States Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to modernize the administration of federal elections, marking the first time in our nation’s history that the federal government has funded an election reform effort. HAVA provides federal funding to help the states meet the law’s uniform and non-discretionary administrative requirements, which include the following new programs and procedures: 1) provisional voting, 2) voting information, 3) statewide voter registration lists and identification requirements for first-time registrants, 4) administrative complaint procedures, and 5) updated and upgraded voting equipment.

HAVA also established the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to administer the federal funding and to provide guidance to the states in their efforts to comply with the HAVA administrative requirements. Section 202 directs the EAC to adopt voluntary voting system guidelines, and to provide for the testing, certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they provide all the basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities required of voting systems.

This document, the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (referred to herein as the Guidelines and/or VVSG), is the third iteration of national level voting system standards that has been developed. The Federal Election Commission published the Performance and Test Standards for Punchcard, Marksense and Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems in 1990. This was followed by the Voting Systems Standards in 2002.

Version 1.0 of the VVSG was adopted by a vote of EAC on December 13, 2005. Version 1.1 of the VVSG was created by the EAC in an effort to update and improve version 1.0 of the VVSG. Specifically, Version 1.1 provides updates to requirements in the areas of security, reliability, usability, and accessibility. These improvements enhance the testability and clarity of several of the requirements contained in version 1.0 of the VVSG.

Purpose and Scope of the Guidelines

The purpose of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines is to provide a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they provide all the basic functionality, accessibility and security capabilities required to ensure the integrity of voting systems. The VVSG specifies the functional requirements, performance characteristics, documentation requirements, and test evaluation criteria for the national certification of voting systems. The VVSG is composed of two volumes: Volume I, Voting System Performance Guidelines and Volume II, National Certification Testing Guidelines.

Effective Date

The Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1 will take effect after their final adoption by the EAC. At that time, there will be a transition period to move from the 2005 VVSG to VVSG 1.1. At a date to be determined by EAC Commissioners, EAC will fully transition to VVSG 1.1 and manufacturers will no longer be able to test to the 2005 VVSG for a full system certification. Modifications to a system qualified or certified to the 2005 VVSG after this date will be tested against the 2005 VVSG.

This VVSG effective date provision has no effect on the mandatory voting system requirements prescribed in HAVA Section 301(a), which states must comply with on or before January 1, 2006. The EAC issued Advisory 2005-004 to assist states in determining if a voting system is compliant with Section 301(a). This advisory is available on the EAC website at

Volume I: Voting System Performance Guidelines Summary

Volume I, the Voting System Performance Guidelines, describes the requirements for the electronic components of voting systems. It is intended for use by the broadest audience, including voting system developers, manufacturers and suppliers; voting system testing labs (VSTL); state organizations that certify systems prior to procurement; state and local election officials who procure and deploy voting systems; and public interest organizations that have an interest in voting systems and voting system standards. It contains the following sections:

Section I describes the purpose and scope of the Voting System Performance Guidelines.

Section 2 describes the functional capabilities required of voting systems. This section has been revised to reflect HAVA Section 301 requirements.

Section 3 describes new standards that make voting systems more usable and accessible for as many eligible citizens as possible, whatever their physical abilities, language skills, or experience with technology. This section reflects the HAVA 301 (a)(3) accessibility requirements.

Sections 4 through 6 describe specific performance standards for election system hardware, software, telecommunications, and security. Environmental criteria have been updated in Section 4.

Section 7 describes voting system security requirements and includes new requirements for voting system software distribution, generation of software reference information, validation of software during system setup, and the use of wireless. It also includes requirements for voter verifiable paper audit trail components for directrecording electronic voting systems.

Section 8 describes requirements for manufacturer quality assurance and configuration management practices and the documentation about these practices required for the EAC certification process.

Appendix A contains a glossary of terms.

Appendix B provides a list of related standards documents incorporated into the Guidelines by reference, documents used in the preparation of the Guidelines, and referenced legislation.

Document assets
voluntary voting system guidelines (VVSG), voting system standards