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.
After adopting the 2005 VVSG, EAC tasked the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) with developing the next iteration of the VVSG. On March 31, 2015, the commissioners unanimously approved the VVSG 1.1, which clarified the guidelines to make them more testable; enabled the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create test suites for the proposed revisions; and improved portions of the guidelines without requiring massive programmatic changes. Further, on January 6, 2016, the Commission adopted an implementation plan whereby all new voting systems would be required to be tested against the VVSG 1.1 beginning on July 6, 2017; 18 months from the date of the vote.
Almost immediately following the adoption of VVSG 1.1, a public working group process was developed to help inform NIST and EAC on the development of the next iteration of voluntary voting system guidelines, entitled VVSG 2.0. Currently, that draft of the VVSG 2.0 is being circulated and modified as necessary with an anticipated adoption date in the first half of 2018.
For a full test of each version of the VVSG, including drafts, and other documents pertinent to VVSG, please see below.
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
When migrating from one set of standards to another a well-defined and thought out implementation plan should be developed. Considerations for migration need to include the time it will take for manufacturers to develop to the new standards, as well as the procedural changes that need to be amended within the program to allow all stakeholders to be ready for full migration. Below are documents that the EAC has developed during the transition of standards.
Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 2.0 (Drafts)
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. Currently, that draft of the VVSG 2.0 is being circulated and modified as necessary with an anticipated adoption date in the first half of 2018.
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.