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Voluntary Voting System Guidelines

Friday, July 14, 2023

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) are a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if they meet required standards. Some factors examined under these tests include basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities. While the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates the EAC to develop and maintain these requirements, adhering to the VVSG is voluntary except in select states that require it by law. 

On February 10, 2021, the EAC's Commissioners unanimously adopted the newest VVSG standard, version 2.0. In November and December of 2022, the VVSG 2.0 was fully ready to be used for testing with the accreditation of both Voting System Test Labs (VSTL) by the EAC to test to the new standard.

As described in section 3 of the EAC's VVSG Lifecycle Policy, the EAC will no longer accept submissions to test new voting systems to previous major versions, 12 months after new major VVSG standards are ready to be used for testing. With the accreditation of the first VSTL to test to VVSG 2.0 on November 15, 2022, VVSG 1.0 and VVSG 1.1 will no longer be used by the EAC to certify voting systems on November 16, 2023. 

The EAC will continue to accept applications for voting systems to be tested against VVSG 1.0 and 1.1 until November 15, 2023. After that point, VVSG 1.0 and 1.1 will no longer be used by the EAC to certify voting systems, and all applications for voting systems to be newly certified by the EAC must be for VVSG 2.0 or limited maintenance modifications to existing EAC-certified systems.  

Learn More About VVSG Migration


Key points regarding VVSG migration are:

  • Voting systems will not be decertified by the EAC as the result of VVSG migration. VVSG migration only affects the standards manufacturers may use to obtain future EAC certifications, not systems previously certified to past standards. 

  • VVSG 1.0 and 1.1 certified voting systems may continue to be used and do not need to be replaced by systems certified to VVSG 2.0, unless otherwise dictated by individual state statute.  

  • The EAC has developed resources to assist election officials with communications about the migration of these standards and reassuring the public that our voting systems are secure and accurate.  

For a full text of each version of the VVSG, including drafts, and other documents pertinent to VVSG, please see below.

Approved Guidelines

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 2.0

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.0 (2005)

2002 Voting System Standards

Prior to the passage of HAVA, voting systems were assessed and qualified by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), a nonpartisan association consisting of state level election directors nationwide. These voting systems were tested against the 1990 and 2002 voting system standards developed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). With HAVA's enactment, the responsibility for developing voting system standards was transferred from the FEC to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and their new iterations are now the EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.

1990 FEC Standards

VVSG Lifecycle Policy

The EAC VVSG Lifecycle Policy facilitates migration to new VVSG standards by providing guidance on the types of version changes, Voting System Test Laboratory (VSTL) accreditation, VVSG migration of prior major standards, and establishing a periodic review timeline for new standards going forward. The policy defines changes that may be made to systems certified to prior standards and describes the process for updating the standards as defined in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).


Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 2.0 (Drafts)

These documents are undergoing a non-substantive review which includes verifying font types, spacing, identifying misspellings, and grammatical errors.

At the September 2016 TGDC Meeting, the Committee, through the Project Charter, adopted the name VVSG 2.0 for the next iteration of guidelines. Also, the Project Charter laid out the proposed structure of the document, as well as a proposed timeline. At the February 2017 TGDC Meeting, the scope of the document was unanimously decided and a draft of the guidelines was presented. 

Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1 (Drafts)

The VVSG 1.1 was originally offered for public comment during the summer of 2009. The revisions to VVSG 1.1 were taken almost exclusively from the 2007 TGDC Recommended Guidelines. Additional changes were made to VVSG 1.1 after the initial 120-day public comment period. Then the EAC reopened the guidelines for an additional 130-day public comment period. The VVSG 1.1 was adopted on March 31, 2015.

2007 TGDC Recommended Guidelines (Drafts)

After adopting the 2005 VVSG, EAC tasked the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) with developing the next iteration of the VVSG. The TGDC delivered its draft recommendations to the EAC in August of 2007. After receiving the TGDC's recommendations, the EAC put them out for public comment. The public comment period ended in May 2008 with the EAC receiving more than 3000 comments. Based on those comments and input from a variety of stakeholders, EAC decided to issue proposed revisions to the 2005 VVSG.

Election Operations Assessment

The goal of the Election Operations Assessment is to produce a scientifically-founded risk assessment tool that will facilitate informed decision making by EAC and its Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) when developing voluntary voting system guidelines. 

Miscellaneous Information