Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) are a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if the systems meet required standards. Some factors examined under these tests include basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities. HAVA mandates that EAC develop and maintain these requirements.
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 guidelines updated and augmented the 2002 Voting System Standards, as required by HAVA, to address advancements in election practices and computer technologies. These guidelines are voluntary. States may decide to adopt them entirely or in part prior to the effective date.
A proposed revision to these guidelines, known as the VVSG 1.1, was originally offered for public comment during the summer of 2009. In response to these comments, the EAC’s Testing & Certification Program developed additional best practices, researched and troubleshot anomalies and deficiencies found in voting systems entering the Testing and Certification Program, and clarified many ambiguities with the standard. Changes were made to VVSG 1.1 after the initial 120-day public comment period to reflect this work, and then the EAC reopened the guidelines for an additional 130-day public comment period. They were adopted on March 31, 2015. For more information on changes made since the initial public comment period, please see the Federal Register notice. For a full text of VVSG 1.1, past guideline versions, and other documents pertinent to VVSG, please see below.
Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Next Generation
Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1 (Approved)
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. The revisions of the 2005 VVSG were taken almost exclusively from the next iteration of the VVSG.
Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1 (Drafts)
Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.0 (2005)
The EAC issued its first set of federal voting system guidelines in 2005, known as the 2005 VVSG. They were based on a revision of an existing standard, the 2002 Voting System Standards, which was used before the EAC was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
TGDC Recommended Guidelines
The TGDC assists EAC in developing the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The chairperson of the TGDC is the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The TGDC is composed of 14 other members appointed jointly by EAC and the director of NIST. The EAC tasked the TGDC with developing the next iteration of the guidelines. The TGDC delivered their draft recommendations for the next iteration of the VVSG on August 31, 2007, and these were incorporated into VVSG 1.1.
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.
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.