Software and Hardware Maintenance, Storage and Update

Last updated on December 17, 2013

Vital functions such as secure storage of electronic voting and counting equipment, maintenance, upgrades, and reconfiguration need to be performed in the period between elections. Care should be taken to ensure that these processes are planned for and that appropriate procedures are put in place to undertake these functions securely and with as much transparency as possible. EMBs should also focus on identifying staffing and training needs to address maintenance and storage as much as possible without the support of vendors.

Equipment used for electronic voting or counting will remain unused between elections, possibly for long periods of time. In the case of electronic voting or counting machines, these machines will need to be placed in storage between elections. EMBs may choose to store this equipment centrally or in regional storage facilities, depending on the logistics involved in moving the equipment and the availability of suitable storage locations. 

The EMB will need to be aware of any environmental conditions that are required when storing the electronic voting or counting equipment, as the equipment may be sensitive to extremes of temperature and humidity or may require dust-free environments. Finding suitable storage locations may be especially challenging in very hot countries, where extreme heat may degrade the reliability of the equipment.

Even where a relatively small amount of equipment is used, such as for Internet voting systems, it will be important that this equipment is placed in a secure location between elections so that the perception and reality that the equipment could be tampered with can be countered. The storage location(s) should be guarded and should have appropriate and clearly identified access control systems. All access to the storage location should be logged, with the reasons for the access clearly identified in the log. It is good practice for party representatives and observers to be invited to supervise any routine access to stored electronic voting or counting equipment; this may also take place in the storage locations due to the space requirements of maintaining or configuring a large number of machines.

Electronic voting and counting machines need to be maintained and checked, especially when left for long periods of time between elections. Machines may also need to be upgraded through their life cycle, which may be fifteen to twenty years. Electronic voting and counting machines will need to be configured before elections so that they are programmed for the types of elections being conducted and the political entities on the ballots. Observers and party representatives should be provided access to these configuration processes.

The conduct of this checking, maintenance, upgrade and configuration may be covered by the supply contract for the electronic voting or counting equipment, or it may be the responsibility of the EMB. In order to avoid dependence on suppliers, it is preferable that the election management body handle these functions. The development of the capacity within the EMB to conduct these tasks may require significant staff training. Thus, it may decide to build this independent capacity over the course of several elections, with reduced dependence on the supplier as time progresses.


Key ConsiderationsKEY CONSIDERATIONS: Software/Hardware Maintenance, Storage and Update




Testing, Source Code Review and Certification


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