By William Jackson
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has begun an
accreditation program for laboratories that want to evaluate voting
systems under the Help America Vote Act.
The 2002 act contains standards that must be met, beginning in 2006,
for mechanical, electromechanical and electronic voting systems used
in federal elections. These standards include:
* A method to let voters verify and correct their votes before the
ballot is cast
* A paper audit trail that will serve as the official record of the
election in the event of a recount
* Accessibility for persons with disabilities and non-English speakers
* A test error rate of not more than one error in 500,000 ballot
The Election Assistance Commission enforces the standards, but
accreditation of test labs is being done by NIST under the National
Voluntary Accreditation Program (NVLAP).
NIST announced plans for the program one year ago and held a public
workshop on the plans in August. NVLAP accreditation is a requirement
for final certification by the Election Assistance Commission.
Applications are available and must be submitted by Aug. 16 for the
first evaluation group. The first evaluations are expected to begin
Sept. 15. Applications received after the initial deadline will be
considered on an as-received basis. Laboratories must pay a
nonrefundable, one-time application fee, as well as an on-site
assessment fee and an annual technical-administrative support fee.
Requirements and forms are available by calling (301) 975-4016; by
writing to Voting System Testing Program Manager, NIST/NVLAP, 100
Bureau Dr., mail stop 2140, Gaithersburg, MD, 20899-2140; or by
For more information contact Jeffrey Horlick of NVLAP at
jeffrey.horlick @ nist.gov
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