EAC Standards Board Unanimously Approves the 17 Core Voting System Principles

EAC Standards Board Unanimously Approves the 17 Core Voting System Principles
for Adopting the New Voluntary Voting System Guidelines
Washington, DC – A set of 17 core voting system functions that will guide the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) next generation of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) was unanimously approved this week by the EAC’s Standards Board. The vote came during the board’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Previously in February, the core principles were adopted for recommendation to the Standards Board during the EAC’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee’s (TGDC).
 “We are pleased the Standards Board unanimously voted to approve the proposed scope for the next set of voting system guidelines, a vital step that puts us another step closer to finalizing the next generation of standards used to test voting systems,” said EAC Chairman Matthew V. Masterson. “These will be the most up-to-date standards against which a voting system can be tested in the United States, ensuring improved security, accessibility and auditability of the next generation of voting systems. Even better, these new guidelines are designed to spur innovations that allow local election officials to give voters the best experience possible.”
The VVSG are a set of technical specifications against which voting systems can be tested to determine if the systems meet required standards. Some factors examined under these tests include functionality, accessibility, accuracy, auditability and security capabilities. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates that EAC develop and maintain these requirements as well as testing and certifying voting systems. On December 13, 2005, the EAC unanimously adopted the 2005 VVSG, which significantly increased security requirements for voting systems and expanded access, including opportunities for individuals with disabilities to vote privately and independently. The 2005 guidelines updated and augmented the 2002 Voting System Standards to address advancements in election practices and computer technologies. These guidelines were again updated by the EAC’s Commissioners on March 31, 2015. The new VVSG are slated to be complete by 2018. These guidelines are voluntary. States may decide to adopt them entirely or in part.
The new guidelines are a nimble high level set of principles that will be supplemented by accompanying requirements for how systems can meet the new guidelines and obtain certification. The supplemental requirements will also detail test assertions for how the accredited test laboratories will validate that the system complies with those requirements.
The new VVSG structure is anticipated to be:
  • Principles:    High level system design goals;
  • Guidelines:   Broad description of the functions that make up a voting system;
  • Requirements:   Technical details necessary for manufacturers to design devices that meet the principles and guidelines of a voting system;
  • Test Assertions:    Technical specifications required for laboratories to test a voting system against the requirements.

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the EAC’s Testing and Certification program, which is the most implemented voting machine testing and certification program in the nation. The Testing and Certification program was a requirement of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that created the EAC and mandated that the commission provide certification, decertification, and recertification of voting systems, as well as the accreditation of voting system testing laboratories.  This legislation marked the first time the federal government provided monetary support and legislative provisions for these activities, a step that allowed states to procure new certified voting systems without the added expense of independent testing and certification. At least 47 states now use the EAC’s Testing and Certification program in some way when deciding which voting system to procure.

The TGDC is expected to convene again in late summer 2017 to continue work on the guidelines. For more information, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at 301-563-3951 or


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The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit