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Glossary

Information Technology Terminology

Posted: Sep 21, 2017


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Summary

General Information / Election Administration

GENERAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Access Controls  

Methods by which access to specific data, procedures, and other resources is restricted or controlled.  The most common access control is a username/password combination.

Election officials must control access to resources within the scope of the election systems they supervise.   A typical criteria is “need to know”, implying that election workers only have access to appropriate data and resources within the scope of their responsibility.

Accessibility  

Refers to the extent to which a site, facility, work environment, service, or program is easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, and/or use safely and with dignity by a person with a disability.

Election officials must ensure that all aspects of the election are fully accessible to all voters.

Accountability  

Methods by which a system associates users and processes.

Election officials must be able to detect when an error occurred by logging the event.  A main function of event logging is being able to determine who is accountable for the error.

Administrative Controls  

The policies and procedures implemented as part of its overall information security strategy.

Election officials must create and IT and security strategy that addresses the policies and procedures for securing their election systems.

Air Gap  

An air gap is a physical separation between systems that requires data to be moved by some external, manual procedure.  Also called “Sneaker Net”.

Election systems often use air gaps intentionally to prevent or control access to a system.  Copying election results to a CD or USB drive, then walking that media to a different computer for upload and use in a different system is an example of an air gap.

Algorithm   

A procedure or formula that produces predictable, consistent results when applied.  An algorithm describes, in formal language (frequently mathematical) how a problem is solved. An algorithm, like a recipe, is a well prescribed sequence of steps designed to produce a solution.

The procedure that produces a uniform distribution of ordered candidates within a race in a ballot rotation scheme is an algorithm.  Counting votes in an instant runoff voting system requires a specific algorithm.

Application Programming Interface (API) 

Specification for input data and output data for a system.

Election officials can use APIs to adapt their election systems for commonly used applications, such as the Voter Information Project (VIP) for voter lookup tools and election night reporting

Assistive Technology  

A device that improves or maintains the capabilities of people with disabilities (no vision, low vision, mobility, cognitive, etc.).  Assistive technologies include headsets, keypads, software, sip-and-puff, and voice synthesizers.

Accessibility of voting systems in accomplished through good, universal design principles and assistive technologies.

Audit 

 A review of a system and its controls to determine its operational status and the accuracy of its outputs.

Election system audits seek to determine if controls are properly designed and functioning to ensure the correctness of intermediate and final results of the system’s processing.

Audit Trail 

The records that document transactions and other events.

Some audit trails in election systems are  event logs, paper records, error messages, and reports.

Authentication  

The process of identifying a user, usually by means of a username and password combination.

Election systems use authentication methods to assure that only those users with appropriate authority are permitted access to the system.  Authentication schemes should not permit group logins.

Backdoor  

 An undocumented or hidden entry into a computer system that permits unauthorized access to programs and/or data.

Some early voting systems had backdoors that permitted developers to access system functionality without logins.

Bandwidth  

The throughput capacity of digital connections.

Large data files (like an electors list) require significant bandwidth capacity to move through a network.  Low bandwidth means slow connection speeds.

Barcode   

A barcode is an optical, machine-readable representation of data relating to an object.  Barcodes come in a variety of formats including 1D (barcode 39 or 128) and 2D (pdf 417).  Barcodes can also be encrypted.

Barcoding is a common technique to permit rapid identification of ballots, election materials, and voter records.

Blacklist  

A list of URLs, domains, users, or other identifiers, that have system access or privileges blocked.

Election offices may wish to “add” domains to be blocked to a blacklist, maintained by their system administrator.

Blockchain   

A database that holds a continuously growing set of encrypted transactions, in a tamper proof format. Blockchain is the underlying architecture for Bitcoin technology.

Online voting systems have been proposed that use Blockchain architecture.

Boolean   

Pertaining to one of two states:  off/on, 1/0,  Yes/No, or some other binary pairing.

When a voting system is tested, most of the tests are Boolean in nature – that is, the system completely passes or completely fails the test.

Botnet

A programmed Internet connected device that can be used to launch DDOS attacks, steal data, send spam, etc. 

Bots are frequently spread as email attachments and can compromise election office computers used to browse websites and support email activities.

Browser  

Software program installed on a computer, that permits the user to access the Internet, download files, print files, and perform other operations.  Common browsers are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Apple’s Safari. Not all applications will run on every browser.

Election Night Reporting Systems, voter information pages, and other Internet applications may appear different, in different browsers.  Check systems for browser compatibility.

Byte   

Eight binary digits or the amount of data used to store a character or an integer – a measurement of storage in a computer’s memory or its storage media.

The average voter record consists of about 200 characters.  That would require 200 bytes of storage, plus some storage for meta data.  To store 6 million voter records on a memory card, that card needs to have at least 1.2 Giga Bytes of memory.

Ciphertext 

Data or information in its encrypted form.

Election data will display in cyphertext – and be unreadable by humans – without decryption.

Cloud Computing  

The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.  Also called on-line computing.

Election technologies are evolving in parallel with other commercial information systems.  Election officials may be managing voter and election data, stored on computers, outside of their organization.  Cloud computing requires an appropriate security strategy to ensure the protection, availability and integrity of data and programs store in the cloud.

Code  

n. Synonym for program or software.  v. to create or modify software.

Commercial Off-The-Shelf Technology   

Hardware and software components that are widely available for purchase and can be integrated into special-purpose systems.

E-pollbooks are often implemented on COTS tablets such as the iPad or Android tablet.    COTS systems are contrasted with propriety systems.

Common Data Format   

Standard and practice of storing and creating data in a common, described format that can be read by other systems.  

Voting and election systems that use a common data format can share data without middleware software to convert it.  Election Night Reporting systems are common applications that anticipate a common data format for input.

Controls   

A device, procedure, or subsystem, which when properly designed and implemented, ensures correctness of operation in a system.  Common controls include completeness of processing checks, authentication of users, and accuracy in processing.  Controls can be preventative (prevent anomalies from occurring) or paired, detective and corrective controls.

A common detective control in election administration is a physical seal.  The seal does not prevent tampering with election devices, but permits the detection of tampering.

Custodian 

Person with the responsibility for protecting information assets.

IT personnel or an IT Division may be the custodian of voter registration systems and other systems that are maintained in house.  For a precinct based voting system, the custodian may be an election worker who is in charge verifying seals and making sure no unauthorized access is gained to the voting devices.

Cybersecurity   

Measures taken to protect computer systems from attack and unauthorized access or use.  Cybersecurity tools include hardware, software and procedures.

Election officials must defend against attacks and unauthorized access of election and voting systems.  The most common cybersecurity technique is good password management.

Data destruction  

The removal of data from a storage medium.

Election officials should destruct all data on election systems before selling or disposing of the systems.  Any election system that is to be destroyed should use a reputable company and best practices for destruction, so that data cannot be obtained after it is no longer in the custody of the election official.

Database  

A structured collection of data that includes data and meta data (data about the data).  Databases are managed by Database Management Systems.

The election database stores all of the requisite information to manage election including precinct information, race and candidate information, and data used to prepare the ballots, tabulate, and report results.

Defense-in-Depth   

Also called the “Castle” approach.  Multiple levels of logical and physical security measures that deny a single point of security failure in a system.

The use of passwords, encryption, lock-and-key access, security seals, and logs, represents a defense-in-depth approach to securing voting and election systems.

Digital Certificate  

A technology by which systems and their users can employ the security applications of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). PKI is a set of roles, policies, and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates and manage public-key encryption.

Voting and election systems will use PKI infrastructure to exchange and compare digital certificates for the purpose of authenticating access and securing transmission of data.

Digitize  

To convert analog data to digital format for storage and use on a computer.  The digital form of the character “A” is the byte:  01000001 (ASCII value 65).  Any data stored in a computer must be digitized.

Converting the information on the front of a voter ID card or driver’s license into a computer readable format requires the data to be digitized.  Scanners are digitizers.

Directory   

A file storage architecture in which individual files are stored in separate, hierarchical directories.  The directory is the map to where the file is stored.  Most systems will store files in a default directory unless otherwise specified.

Election systems will store files in directories on both internal and external storage media.  Finding a file requires the election official to know not only the file name, but also the directory name in which the file is stored.

Domain A collection of users, computers, and resources that have a common security policy administered by a single entity.

Download    

Transferring data from a larger computer to a smaller computer or device.

An EMS facilitates downloading ballot images to vote capture devices.

Dox  

Publish damaging or defamatory information about an individual or organization on the Internet.

One method of hacking a campaign is doxing (or doxxing).

Dynamic Password

A password that changes at a defined interval or event.

Entitlement 

Access rights assigned to employees base on job title, department, or other established criteria.

Ethernet  

A network protocol (IEEE 802.n) that is used to permit local area network devices to communicate with each other.  Ethernet connections use a Cat 5e connector cable.

Many of the devices used in polling places will use an Ethernet connection to establish connectivity with other devices (e-pollbooks, card activators, etc.).

Encryption

The process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties (or software applications) can read it. Encryption does not prevent interception, but denies the message content to the interceptor.  Encrypted information must be decrypted before it can be rendered into plain text or other usable format. Encryption and decryption add overhead to processing and can slow systems down.

Voting systems will commonly encrypt data within a voting system component before transmitting it to another device. 

End of Life (EOL)

When the manufacturer or integrator of an IT component ceases to produce and provide technical support for that product.

Election officials who use technologies that are EOL’d, should monitor available inventories and begin to create a transition strategy to newer, supportable technology.

Escalation of Privilege 

An attack where the attacker is using some means to bypass security controls in order to attain a higher privilege level on the target system.

Exfiltration

Unauthorized transfer of information from an information system. A data breach of an election system may lead to the exfiltration of PII data.

Failover  

A mode where the system automatically transfers processing to a backup component when a hardware or software failure is detected.

Fail-safe 

A mode where program execution is terminated to protect the system from being compromised when a hardware or software failure is detected.

Fail-soft 

A mode where non-critical processing is terminated to protect the system from being compromised when a hardware or software failure is detected.

Failure 

The inability of a system or component to perform its required functions within specified performance requirements.

Fault 

Momentary loss of electrical power.

Fault-Tolerant  

A system that continues to operate after the failure of a computer or network component.

File

A collection of related data, stored on media.  Files will be identified by a system-valid filename.

File Type

The specific kind of information contained in a file, usually designated with a file extension (e.g.  .doc for a Word document; .txt for a text document, etc.).  A .pdf file is common format for reports (See Portable Document Format)

Systems will usually expect a specific file type for input/output operations.  Your election night reporting system may accept only a .txt file or a .zip file.

FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards)

Standards issued by US Government for use in government agencies. FIPS 140 covers encryption standards.

Firewall   

A gateway computer and its software that protects a network by filtering the traffic that passes through it.

Election offices often need to reconfigure the firewall to permit large files or complex files to be passed through the firewall that separates the office from the internet.

Firmware  

Computer instructions that are encoded directly into computer hardware.  Firmware is resident to the hardware and cannot be altered without modifying the hardware.

Voting systems may contain firmware that cannot be altered without replacing the hardware.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)  

A standard network protocol used to transfer computer files between a client and server on a computer network, usually the Internet.

Election offices will upload and download files, such as sample ballots or election databases, using an FTP site.  FTP requires the use of password authentication.

Gateway 

A system, connected to a network, which performs real-time translation or interface function.

Glitch  

An intermittent system error of undetermined cause. A system glitch may cause a network to go offline or a program to crash.

Election officials are expected to track down all errors to their root causes and avoid blaming anomalies on “glitches.”

Hacker

Someone who seeks to exploit weaknesses in computer systems, voting systems or networks to gain unauthorized access or break-in into a system.

There are many types of hackers, but the best defined terms for types of hackers are white-hat and black-hat hackers

Hacking The act performed by a hacker whereby the hacker gains unauthorized access or breaks-in into a system by exploiting a weakness.

Hacktivism 

Utilizing technology to publicize a social, ideological, religious or political message.

Hacktivism can refer to any attempt to alter or influence the outcome of an election by an interested third party, such as a nation state.  It can also refer making information that is not public, or is public in non-machine-readable formats, accessible to the public

Hardware    

The physical, tangible, mechanical or electromechanical components of a system. If you can put an inventory sticker on it – it’s hardware.

Voting system hardware must be physically secured with locks, seals, and logs.  Hardware may be COTS or proprietary.  Proprietary hardware is unique to the vendor and purchase, maintenance and repairs will be done by the voting system vendor. Hardware can be repurposed by upgrading the software that controls it.

Hash Function   

A hash function is any function that can be used to map data of arbitrary size to data of fixed size. The values returned by a hash function are called hash values, hash codes, hash sums, or simply hashes

Voting system object code is “hashed” so that installations can be validated as identical to the certified version.

Heterogeneous Environment 

An environment consisting of multiple types of systems.

Homogeneous environment  An environment consisting of a single type of system.

Hub 

A network device used ot connect several LAN devices together.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 

An application protocol to transfer data between web servers and web browsers.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) 

The HTTP protocol encrypted with SSL or TLS.

Inactivity Timeout 

A mechanism that locks, suspends, or logs off a user after a specified period of inactivity.

Interface   

 A boundary between two components of a system, through which the components may interacts or share information.

Examples: A hardware interface connects input/output devices. Humans and computers interact though user interfaces.

A DRE presents an interface to the voter.  This interface permits the voter to interact with the system via a touchscreen, wheel, or some other input device.

Internet

Global, public network that permits computers and other devices to be interconnected.

Election offices may have desktop, laptops, tables and other computers connected to the Internet so that information can be uploaded and downloaded and applications like email can be run.  Once a device is connected to the Internet it is potentially accessible by anyone, from anywhere.  Internet access carries with it certain security risks.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)  

Organization that provides access to the Internet for customers or members.

Examples include AT&T, Comcast, etc.

Interoperability  

The extent to which systems and devices can communicate with each other and work cooperatively without extensive modification by a systems integrator or programmer.

The extent to which you can change out components of a system is a measure of the interoperability of that system.  Generally speaking, interoperability permits an election official a wider range of options for maintenance and support of their voting system.

Intranet   

A local network of computers and other devices that moves and stores information within the organization.

Election offices may use an intranet to store election related data that is not accessible from outside of the office.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS) 

A hardware or software application that detects and reports a suspected security breach, policy violation or other compromise that may adversely affect the network.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) 

A hardware or software application that detects and blocks a suspected security breach, policy violation or other compromise that may adversely affect the network.

IP Address  Internet Protocol Address 

An IP Address is numeric value (nnn.nnn.nn.nn) used to uniquely identify a device within a network.  The address can also be used for local networks.

Many devices in an election office may be linked together on a local network that utilized IP addressed to identify devices.  Accurate settings of the IP address are critical to permit devices to communicate with each other.

Java Applet  

A software application written in the Java programming language that is usually launched through a web page.   Browsers must be configured to interpret Java applets.

ENRs and Voter Information Pages often include Java applets.

Local Area Network (LAN)

Also see MAN and WAN. A computer network that connects computer and other devices such as printers in a limited area such as a school, office building or home.

Computers and devices in an Election Management Center may be connected with a LAN.

Life Cycle   

Systems engineering concept that identifies the phases that a system passes through, from concept to retirement. There are different concerns and activities associated with each phase of the life cycle.

The adoption, deployment, use and maintenance of voting and election systems require different life cycle concerns and activities, depending upon where in the life cycle the system resides.

Message Digest 

A condensed representation of a message that is produced by using a one-way hash function.

Multi-factor Authentication 

Authentication mechanism requiring two or more of the following: something you know (e.g. Password), something you have (e.g. Token), something you are (e.g. biometrics).

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)   

Federal organization tasked with assisting in the development of voting system standards (see VVSG).  NIST develops and maintains standards for a wide array of technologies.

NIST scientists assist the EAC in developing testable standards for voting systems.

Open Source    

Computer software with its source code (human readable code) made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.

Voting and election systems that contain open source software have had that software reviewed by multiple, professional and amateur programmers.  Open source systems are usually not free and are typically licensed like other software.  Systems can be fully open source, or may have only a portion of their software open source.

Operating System   

A collection of programs that controls the hardware of a computer system and provides utilities and services to application software that is installed on the device.  Operating systems use complex release version numbers to indicate which version is installed and require frequent patches or updates to maintain security and functionality.

Managing the software revisions in an election office requires careful coordination of updates to the operating system as well as to the application software.

Owner 

An individual responsible for management of an asset and its policies.

Penetration Testing   

Also called Pen Testing.  An evaluation method that enables researcher to search for vulnerabilities in a system.

Election systems, such as the VR system, are periodically submitted to Pen Test to determine their vulnerabilities to cyber attacks.

PII   

Personal Identifying Information.  Information that permits the identify of an individual to be derived and possibly used for identity theft.

Voter registration systems may contain PII.

Portable Document Format (pdf)

A standard and commonly used file format, used for creating, sharing, and reading documents, forms, and reports. Pdf files can only be opened and read by a reader, such as Adobe Acrobat.

A lab report for a voting system and a form for voter registrations are common examples of pdf files.

Preventive Controls 

Controls that prevent unwanted events.

Program  

n. A set of instructions that are stored within a computer’s memory and cause the computer to execute a task.  v. The process of creating a computer program.

Election databases are programmed to store all the data as well as the rules of processing that data, for a given election.  Ballot builders are sometimes referred to as election database programmers.

Protocol

1.  An agreed upon format for transmitting data between devices.  2.  A plan for carrying out a formal or scientific study.

Voting system tests are often called protocols.

Proxy Server 

A system that transfers data packets from one network to another.

QR Code   

Quick Response Code.  A 2-D, trademarked bar code.

Some proprietary voting systems will encode the voter’s choices in a QR Code that can be read on a scanner in the precinct and converted to a printed ballot.

Ransomware

Malware that holds the victim’s device (computer, phone, etc.) and data for ransom, by means of encrypting the files on the device or preventing access to the device.

Election office computers should maintain high levels of cyber hygiene, including up-to-date anti-malware systems and adherence to best practices regarding managing browser and email client activities.   

Requirements   

The fundamental collection of activities and functions that must be supported by a system.  Defining requirements determines the capabilities of the system.

Election officials must be able to articulate the fundamental set of things a voting system or election system must do, in order to define the requirements of the system.  These requirements are then reiterated in Request For Proposals (RFPs) and subsequent contracts with vendors.

Router 

A device that manages network traffic by passing data packets between different networks.

A wireless router may be used to permit EPBs to communicate with each other at a precinct or vote center.

Server   

A server is a collection of computer programs, hosted on a computer that provides services to other computers, via some connection – usually a network.

Voting systems use special-purpose servers to create closed networks for uploading and downloading information from voting system media (memory cards).  These servers also contain the tabulation software.

Social Engineering   

Misleading users into providing information that can be used to compromise the security of a system. Usually low-tech.

Social engineering of election officials includes emails and phone calls requesting information that can be used to spoof accounts or hack passwords.

Software  

A synonym for program. Computer software is the collection of programs that control the computer and perform a specific collection of tasks. Software has version numbers and is licensed (not sold) to the end user. Software can be altered to change the functionality of the computer.

The Election Management System (EMS) used to create election databases is software.

Source Code

Human readable computer instructions that when compiled or interpreted, become an application.  Source code can be written by humans or by computers.

The source code of a voting system must be securely stored (escrowed) so that any future, needed modifications of the system can be performed.

Spear Phishing 

A targeted attack by hackers, via bogus emails, that attempts to get the victim to provide login information or personal information to the hackers.  Spear Phishing attempts may appear to originate from legitimate, known sources, such as organizational IT or known vendors.

Election officials should NOT click through on suspicious links or open attachments without first verifying that the email is legitimate. 

Switch  

Switches connects computers in a network. A switch acts as a controller. Thus switches create networks. Routers connect and manage traffic between different networks.

One or more DREs might be connected via a switch to the EMS.

System   

A collection of unified components that convert inputs to outputs.  Systems consist of integrated subsystems.  Systems are typically complex and highly interconnected.  Information systems consist of hardware, software, data, people and procedures.

The voting system is more than just a single device.  It consists of numerous subsystems, which when unified and controlled, give the voting system its capabilities.  Subsystems include vote capture, vote tabulation, reporting, etc.

Software Patches  

Also called fixes or bug fixes.  Corrections to existing programs, designed to be integrated into the programs without major release changes.

Patches or fixes to voting systems must be tested before being applied, and may invalidate certifications.  Do not install software patches without extensive technical review for unintended consequence.

Tabletop Exercise 

A discussion-based drill where qualified personnel discuss scenarios and responses in order to validate plans and procedures.  Also called Incident Response Planning.

Election officials exchange in tabletop exercises to determine the viability of their election continuity plans.

Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)   

A battery powered back-up system that quickly switches to battery power when electrical current to the computer system is disrupted (surge, sags, and failures).

Election offices ensure election operations continuity by utilizing UPS systems in the event of a power failure.  UPS systems come in various sizes and are rated by hours/minutes of service following a power failure.

Upload  

Transfer data from a smaller computer or device to a larger computer.

At the close of polls, memory cards with cast ballot information are uploaded to the central tabulation computer.

Virus

A malicious computer program that may replicate itself on in a computer network, insert or attach copies of itself into computer programs, and cause harm to computers or systems by corrupting,  stealing or modifying data or access.

Voting system components connected to a network risk malware infections, such as viruses.

Wi-Fi  

Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections.   Wi-Fi is a trademarked phrase for the IEEE 802.11x standard.  Wireless is less secure than Ethernet connections.

Some e-pollbook and voting system technologies use Wi-Fi or wireless connectivity at the polling place.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A network that connects computers across metropolitan, regional and national boundaries.

The internet is an example of a WAN.

Wireless    

Network connectivity using radio waves instead of wire connections.  Wireless signals can be intercepted and, if not encrypted, deciphered. 

Election systems that use wireless connectivity must be tested for security and signal reliability.

XML Extensible Markup Language   

XML is a text based language used to organize and present information on the World Wide Web.   

Some Election Night Reporting (ENR) systems use XML coding for their displays.  The voting system must be able to export reports in (or convert them to) XML format.

 

 


ELECTION ADMINISTRATION TECHNOLOGY

Acceptance Testing  

Testing each individual unit of the voting system for conformance to the certified model.  Acceptance testing should not be done by the vendor and should be done any time the voting system unit falls out of custody of the jurisdiction.

Automatic Voter Registration  (AVR) 

Voter registration subsystem that creates a voter record automatically from an external (usually DMV) transaction. AVR systems require a voter to “opt out” if they choose not be registered.

Ballot on Demand (BOD) 

Ballot On Demand systems permit a jurisdiction to print paper, optical scan ballots as needed. BOD systems integrate ballot images from the EMS and data from the voter registration system to select the correct image for printing.  In theory BOD systems prevent over ordering of ballots and ensure that the jurisdiction does not run out of ballots during the election.

Barcode Reader 

Device used to scan barcodes and convert the encoded information into a usable format. Barcode readers are used to scan codes on ballots, driver’s licenses, voter ID cards, voter information packets, envelopes, and other documents in the election ecosphere.

 

Central Count Optical Scan  

Optical scan system that utilizes one or more high-speed scanners at a central location to tabulate ballots. Central count systems are usually paired with Vote By Mail technologies. Central count system lack overvote/undervote protection capabilities.

Digital Optical Scan System  

Optical scan system that converts voter choices on a paper ballot to digital values.  Digital op scan systems can accommodate a broader range of paper types, sizes of paper, ballot layout, and voter marks than IR op scan systems.

Direct Record Electronic Voting System (DRE)   A DRE system presents a ballot image to a voter, collects the voter’s choices, and records those choices directly onto electronic media.  DREs may be fitted with VVPAT subsystems to create a paper artifact of the voting transaction.  DREs are capable of audio interaction, image displays, and can hold a large number of ballot styles in multiple languages.

Election Management System (EMS) 

The collection of software systems that are used by election officials to “build ballots”.  The EMS defines ballots by associating precincts with races and candidates and describing how those ballot components will be displayed.  The EMS is also responsible for tabulation, report generation and auditing.

Election Night Reporting Systems (ENR) 

A web based system that aggregates and displays unofficial election results across the jurisdiction. ENR systems can be real-time or near real-time, and acquire their data from the EMS. ENR systems can provide multiple formats for displaying election results and may provide direct feeds for the media.

Electronic Ballot Delivery  

The delivery of ballot and voter information packets via the Internet. The MOVE Act requires each state to provide for the electronic delivery of ballots and related information from the local election office to the registered, UOCAVA voter.

Electronic Ballot Return   

The return of a voted ballot or voter information packet via electronic means.  This can be by fax, email, or through the use of an Internet supported application.  Sometimes referred to as “Internet Voting”.

Electronic Poll Book (EPB)  

Hardware and/or software that permits election officials to review the electors list and mark voters who have been issued a ballot. Also called e-pollbook. E-poll books can be stand alone at the precinct with a separate copy of the electors list, or can be networked into a central voter registration system and check and update voter records in real time.

Geographical Information System (GIS)  

A system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data.  GIS systems are used to validate voting district boundaries and may be integrated with the voter registration system.

High-Speed Central Count Tabulation System   

An optical scanner capable of scanning a high number of ballots (hundreds) per minute.  These large and complex scanners are typically used in vote-by-mail jurisdictions, in large jurisdictions that have a large number of absentee ballots, or in central count jurisdictions.

Logic and Accuracy (L&A) Testing  

Jurisdictions are required to test the correctness of every ballot style and to determine that every possible valid and invalid voter choice can be captured or handled by the voting system, both technologically and legally.  L&A scripts are developed to test both the ballot and the vote capture and tabulation systems.

Online Voter Registration (OVR) 

Voter registration subsystem that permits individual users to remotely create, edit or review their own voter record within the voter registration system. 

Optical Scan System  (Op Scan) 

A voting system that can scan paper ballots and tally votes.  Most older op scan systems use Infrared (IR) scanning technology and ballots with timing marks to accurately scan the ballot.

Precinct Count Optical Scan  

Optical scan technology that permits voters to mark their paper ballots within a precinct and submit the ballot for tabulation.  Precinct Count systems provide overvote/undervote protection.

Remote allot Marking Devices

Risk limiting audit  

Risk-limiting audits provide statistical assurance that election outcomes are correct by manually examining portions of paper ballots or voter-verifiable paper records.

Technical Data Package (TDP)

A collection of documents that describe a voting system, including manuals, description of components and details of architectural and engineering design.

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG)  

Collection of standards that is developed and maintained by the EAC.  The VVSG specifies a minimum set of performance requirements that voting systems must demonstrated when tested by the VSTLs

Vote By Mail (VBM)   

Method of casting ballots by which eligible voters are mailed ballots and information packets by the local jurisdiction.  Voters can return their marked ballots by mail or drop them off in secure drop boxes.

Voter Registration System (VRS)

A distributed or centralized system that permits the collection, storage, editing, deletion and reporting of voter records.  HAVA requires each state to have a centralized, statewide voter registration system (VRS).  VRS have multiple interfaces and can interact with Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) systems, election officials, voters and other stakeholders.  The VRS may be vendor-provided or “homegrown”.  They may be client-server architecture or mainframe based.

Voting System 

The total combination of mechanical, electromechanical, or electronic equipment (including the software, firmware, and documentation required to program, control, and support the equipment) that is use to define ballots; to cast and count votes; to report or display election results; and to maintain and produce any audit trail information.

Voting System Test Labs (VSTLs)

VSTLs are privately owned testing laboratories that test voting systems (and other election systems) for conformance to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) or to other requirements, including individual state requirements.  VSTLs are periodically reviewed for conformance to National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) administered by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST).  In 2016, there were three accredited VSTLs.

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

Contemporaneous paper-based printout of voter choices on a DRE.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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