Guidelines Development in the US

Following problems with punch-card voting systems in the 2000 elections, the United States made a concerted effort to develop election standards, including standards for election equipment, that aimed to ensure a level of integrity in the country’s numerous electoral jurisdictions. While this effort has been conducted in a transparent manner and has resulted in a detailed set of guidelines, it also highlights the challenges of gaining consensus on and implementing such guidelines. 

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to serve as an information clearinghouse regarding election administration; testing and certifying voting systems; and promulgating standard voting system requirements.

HAVA also established the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a 14-member expert board drawn from a combination of technical standards agencies and state election officials and chaired by the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The purpose of the TGDC is to assist the EAC with the development of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), a series of specifications and requirements that voting systems would have to meet to be certified by the EAC. The TGDC works in a transparent way, opening its meetings and archives to the public and inviting public comment and position papers on its current initiatives. 

In 2005, the EAC released the VVSG for a 90-day public comment period prior to adoption of the guidelines and reviewed more than 6,000 comments. Under HAVA, adoption of the VVSG by states is voluntary, but adoption by a state brings the guidelines into force for all of the state’s electoral jurisdictions. 

In 2007, the TGDC prepared a set of recommendations for a revised version of the VVSG, parts of which were incorporated into a new draft proposal by the EAC. The proposed revised guidelines were released for a 120-day period of public comment in 2009, but have not yet been finally adopted.

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