Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Tuesday, October 25
Accurate and Secure Voting Systems
Commissioner Ray Martinez of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has a comment in today's Roll Call on "How to Ensure Accurate, Secure Voting Systems." The comment discusses EAC's efforts to use the National Software Reference Library maintained by NIST, to serve as a repository for voting systems software. The basic idea is to require voting system vendors to deposit their software in the library upon completion of the certification process. A subscription is required to view the comment, but here's a snippet:
In the coming weeks, the EAC is expected to vote on a series of proposed final standards which, among other things, would require that all voting system software, including installation programs and third-party software, be deposited with the NSRL upon completion of a national voting system certification process, in which 41 states currently participate.

This means that a local election administrator will be able to verify that the operating software installed in the election management systems used in that local jurisdiction is exactly the same as the software for that particular system that was certified by an independent testing authority and deposited with the NSRL. Additionally, any irregular or suspicious files could be identified when a local election administrator utilizes the NSRL....

[E]ven the most avid critics of electronic voting systems concede that the use of the NSRL in the election process is a practical step toward providing added security measures for electronic voting machines.
In contrast to some of the proposals that have received much more attention, this is a promising step forward. It provides a constructive way by which local election officials can actually verify that the software running on their voting systems is that which was approved. In the wake of the recent GAO report which raised concerns about the manner in which electronic voting is being implemented, Martinez and the EAC's actions are a welcome and constructive contribution to ongoing efforts to make the voting process more secure.

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