Better standards urged for e-voting labs

The standards used by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to accredit laboratories that test electronic voting systems need to be improved, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

NIST's guidelines address the relevant Help America Vote Act requirements, but leave much undefined, GAO found. For example, NIST's approach does not cite explicit qualifications for the personnel who conduct accreditation and technical assessments of the labs and, therefore, play a major role in accreditation decisions.


Instead, NIST officials say they rely on individuals who have experience in evaluating similar laboratories. Further, even though EAC requires accreditation to be based on demonstrated abilities to use the latest voting system standards in testing the machines, NIST's approach does not always cite those standards, GAO said.


NIST officials disputed some of GAO's findings. NIST does have requirements for its assessors' qualifcations, NIST wrote in a response to GAO. The institute also disagreed that it had not always clearly communicated the voting standards it was using or maintained good documentation of accreditation evaluations. 

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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