U.S. Election Assistance Commission Report Shows Results of its Voluntary Electronic Poll Book Pilot Program, Which Aims to Standardize Device Security, Accessibility, and Usability
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released a report on the results of the agency’s Voluntary Electronic Poll Book pilot program, which evaluated the ability of electronic poll book (or e-poll book) developers and EAC Voting System Test Laboratories (VSTLs) to meet baseline cybersecurity, accessibility, and usability standards. E-poll books are designed to replace paper poll lists accessing digital voter registration records on a laptop or tablet and represent a key component of critical election infrastructure. A primary goal of the pilot was to develop a set of testable guidelines, procedures, and program materials that could be utilized to certify the security, accessibility, and usability of these election systems across the country.
During pilot program testing, which took place between January and August 2023, two VSTLs, Pro V&V and SLI Compliance, tested e-poll book devices from five commercial manufacturers, and two in-house developers. These systems were tested against the Voluntary Electronic Poll Book Requirements (Version 0.9) developed by the EAC’s Election Supporting Technology Evaluation Program (ESTEP) in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cybersecurity and accessibility experts, and other key stakeholders. The pilot program confirmed that the systems tested are election ready for use in 2024 and would require only minor changes, such as added documentation, to meet the proposed baseline standards.
Under the authority of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the EAC created ESTEP to establish requirements and guidelines specific to election technologies that are not covered under the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). The e-poll book pilot is the first in a series of pilots conducted by the ESTEP program, which will also examine voter registration databases, election night reporting systems, and ballot delivery systems.
“ESTEP has become a vital addition to the EAC’s support and resources to election officials to secure our nation’s elections,” said EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick, Vice Chair Ben Hovland, Commissioner Donald Palmer, and Commissioner Thomas Hicks in a joint statement. “The need for strong security in election supporting technology like e-poll books continues to grow and the threat landscape continues to evolve. The report and subsequent feedback will help inform the EAC’s next steps in making this pilot a permanent fixture of the EAC’s support to election administrators.”
Throughout the past 15 years, the U.S. has witnessed a steady increase in the use of e-poll books during elections. The EAC recognized the need to establish a uniform set of standards and best practices for e-poll book testing and usage. According to the 2022 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), 2,271 jurisdictions in 40 states utilized e-poll books during the November 2022 general election. The e-poll book pilot tested commercial systems from Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), KNOWiNK, Robis Elections Inc., Tenex Software Solutions, and VOTEC Corporation as well as in-house systems from Maricopa County, Arizona Elections Department, and the North Carolina State Board of Elections. The EAC would like to thank all participants and our accredited laboratories for their assistance throughout this process.
In response to the pilot program’s findings, the EAC plans to revise the Voluntary Electronic Poll Book Requirements by incorporating baseline functional requirements based on state and local standards with the goal of implementing a formal program for testing and certifying e-poll books at the federal level. To complement the requirements, the EAC will develop supporting administrative guidelines with our stakeholders. Finally, the EAC will enhance data collection methods during the 2024 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) reporting for e-poll books to further improve the nation’s understanding of the use of these critical systems.
Upon receiving approval from EAC Commissioners, ESTEP will next move forward with piloting Blank Electronic Ballot Delivery Systems.
The 2023 EAC Voluntary Electronic Poll Book Pilot Program Report and ESTEP and the E-Poll Book Pilot Program are available on eac.gov.
About the U.S. Election Assistance Commission
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. The EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit www.eac.gov.
Contact: Kristen Muthig
Email: [email protected]