This section of the VVSG defines words (terms) that are used in the other parts of the VVSG, particularly in requirements text.
NOTE: Readers may already be familiar with definitions for many of the words in this section, but the definitions here often may differ in small or big ways from locality usage because they are used in special ways in the VVSG.
Terminology for standardization purposes must be sufficiently precise and formal to avoid ambiguity in the interpretation and testing of the standard. Terms must be defined to mean exactly what is intended in the requirements of the standard, no more and no less. Consequently, this terminology may differ from common election and plain English usage, and may be unsuitable for applications that are beyond the scope of the VVSG. Readers are especially cautioned to avoid comparisons between this terminology and the terminology used in election law.
Any term that is defined neither in this terminology standard nor in any of the referenced documents has its regular (i.e., dictionary) meaning.
Each term is followed by a normative definition. Some terms are further explained with informative text following the indicator "Discussion."
N-of-M voting where N = 1.
(1) Ballot provided to an absent voter. (2) Ballot resulting from absentee voting.
Voting that can occur unsupervised at a location chosen by the voter.
Voting station equipped for individuals with disabilities referred to in 42 USC 15481 (a)(3)(B).
Programmed device that creates credentials necessary to initiate a voting session using a specific ballot configuration. Discussion: This covers a range of devices such as electronic pollbooks and card activators that encode a token with credential information necessary to determine the appropriate ballot configuration for the voter (e.g., affiliation or precinct). The credentials on the token are used to call up and display the correct ballot on a DRE or EBP.
Role defined in Part 1 Section 5.4, Table 5-2.
(Media) Able to preserve content for a period of time without significant loss. Discussion: In the context of voting, the relevant period of time is usually 22 months. See Part 1 Section 6.5.3.
Ability of a medium to preserve its content for a period of time without significant loss. Discussion: In the context of voting, the relevant period of time is usually 22 months. See Part 1 Section 6.5.3.
VEBD that communicates ballot information to the voter using sound.
Electronic voter interface that does not require visual reading of a ballot. Discussion: Audio is used to convey information to the voter and sensitive tactile controls allow the voter to convey information to the voting system.
Voting device dedicated exclusively to processes of verification and/or independent assessment of the performance of the voting system.
Verification of statistical or exact agreement of records from different processes or subsystems of a voting system.
Electronically produced record of all votes cast by a single voter. Discussion: A ballot image might be an uninterpreted bitmap image, a transient logical representation of the votes, or an archival record (a cast vote record).
Contest in which the choices are Yes and No.
Concrete presentation of a particular ballot configuration. Discussion: A given ballot configuration may be realized by multiple ballot styles, which may differ in the language used, the ordering of contests and contest choices, etc.
(1) Collection of votes produced by one voter in one voting session (as in "ballot summary" or "rejected ballot record"). (2) Collection of all votes cast by one voter in one voting session (as in "cast ballot"). (3) Cast vote record (as in "evidence that the ballot was available for review by the voter"). (4) Ballot configuration (as in "ballot definition"). (5) Ballot style (as in "ballot design"). (6) Presentation of every contest included in a particular ballot style, possibly with votes (as in "For privacy, the ballot must be visible only to the voter"). (7) Collection of one or more pieces of paper that presents every contest included in a particular ballot style and, when cast, serves as a cast vote record. (8) VEBD function of interacting with a voter to potentially create a ballot (as in "ballot activation") or mark an existing ballot.
Quantitative point of reference to which the measured performance of a system or device may be compared.
Software, firmware, or hardwired logic that is developed to connect application logic to COTS or third-party logic. Discussion: Although it is typically developed by the voting system manufacturer, border logic is constrained by the requirements of the third-party or COTS interface with which it must interact. It is not always possible for border logic to achieve its function while conforming to standard coding conventions. For this reason, border logic should be minimized relative to application logic and where possible, wrapped in a conforming interface. An example of border logic that could not be so wrapped is a customized boot manager that connects a bootable voting application to a COTS BIOS.
(Of a software program or analogous logical design) Function, method, operation, subroutine, procedure, or analogous structural unit that appears within a module.
Role defined in Part 1 Section 5.4, Table 5-2.
Tabulator that counts votes from multiple precincts at a central location. Discussion: Voted ballots are typically placed into secure storage at the polling place and then transported or transmitted to a central tabulator. A tabulator that may be configured for use either in the precinct or in the central location may satisfy the requirements for both Precinct tabulator and Central tabulator.
Optical scanner used as a central tabulator. Discussion: Most machines in this class are special purpose machines that use reflected light to identify marks at specific locations on the ballot. They are designed to read stacks of ballots at a time.
Identified set of voting systems or voting devices sharing a specified characteristic or characteristics. See Part 1 Section 2.5.
Primary election in which the voter receives a ballot containing only those party-specific contests pertaining to the political party with which the voter is affiliated, along with non-party-specific contests presented at the same election. Discussion: Usually, unaffiliated voters are permitted to vote only on non-party-specific contests.
Two or more precincts assigned the same polling place.
Format described in ISO/IEC 25062:2006 "Common Industry Format (CIF) for Usability Test Reports" [ISO06e]. Discussion: CIF is the format required for summative usability test reporting (see Requirement part2:3.6.2-A).
Demonstration that specified requirements relating to a product, process, system, person or body are fulfilled. ([ISO04a])
That with which a vote in a given ballot position is associated (e.g., a candidate, or the value Yes or the value No).
(1) A single decision being put before the voters (e.g., the selection of candidates to fill a particular public office or the approval or disapproval of a constitutional amendment). Discussion: This term subsumes other terms such as "race," "question," and "issue" that are sometimes used to refer to specific kinds of contests. (2) Subdivision of a ballot pertaining to a single decision being put before the voters.
Subset of application logic that is responsible for vote recording and tabulation.
Software, firmware, device or component that is used in the United States by many different people or organizations for many different applications and that is incorporated into the voting system with no manufacturer- or application-specific modification. Discussion: (1) The expansion of COTS as Commercial Off-The-Shelf is no longer helpful, since much of what satisfies the requirements is non-commercial software that is not available in stores. The acronym COTS is used here only because it is familiar to the audience. (2) By requiring "many different applications," this definition deliberately prevents any application logic from receiving a COTS designation.
Voting variation in which the voter is entitled to allocate a fixed number of votes (N) over a list of M contest choices or write-ins. Discussion: Unlike N-of-M voting, cumulative voting allows the voter to allocate more than one vote to a given contest choice. The voter is not obliged to allocate all N votes.
Physical contrivance and any supporting supplies, materials, and logic that together form a functional unit that performs assigned tasks as an integrated whole.
Combination VEBD and tabulator that gathers votes via an electronic voter interface, records voting data and ballot images in memory components, and produces a tabulation of the voting data. Discussion: A typical DRE presents contest choices to the voter on an electronic monitor, and after the voter finishes the ballot the voter's votes are stored locally on the computer.
Ballot marked by an EBM.
Administrative division in which voters are entitled to vote in contests that are specific to that division, such as those for state senators and delegates. Discussion: An election district may overlap multiple precincts, and a precinct may overlap multiple election districts (see split precinct).
Role defined in Part 1 Section 5.4, Table 5-2.
Tabulator used to prepare ballots and programs for use in casting and counting votes and to consolidate, report, and display election results. Discussion: This device receives results data from the vote-capture devices, accumulates the results, and reports the accumulated results. Typically, the election management system will interact with several different classes of voting devices. The EMS receives election results from electronic media devices in one or more of four connections: modem, local bus, direct serial, and/or local area Ethernet.
Confirmation that all recorded votes were counted correctly. See also voter verification.
Voting device that uses electricity.
Component of an electronic vote-capture device that communicates ballot information to the voter and accepts input from the voter.
VEBD that produces an executed, human-readable paper ballot as a result, and that does not make any other lasting record of the voter's votes. Discussion: One kind of EBM presents contest choices to the voter on an electronic monitor; after the voter finishes the ballot, the voter's choices are printed on a paper ballot that is the only record of the voter's choices. However, vote-by-telephone systems that are in use at the time of this writing are also EBMs. The voter uses an audio interface (remotely) and a paper ballot is produced (centrally). An EBM may mark ballot positions on a pre-printed ballot or it may print an entire ballot (the latter kind are called EBPs); however, in any event, the ballot produced is assumed to be human-readable and comparable to an MMPB.
Approval by a political party (e.g., as the candidate that the party elects to field in a particular contest and/or as the candidate that should receive straight party votes). A contest choice may be endorsed by more than one party. See also, affiliation.
Ratio of the number of errors that occur to the volume of data processed. ([VSS2002] I.3.2.1) Discussion: The specific error rate used in the benchmark for voting system accuracy is report total error rate.
Ratio of the number of failures that occur to the volume of data processed. Discussion: Failures may be divided, for example, into user-serviceable and non-user-serviceable categories, and the measure of volume varies by device class.
(Voting system reliability) Event that results in (a) loss of one or more functions, (b) degradation of performance such that the device is unable to perform its intended function for longer than 10 seconds, (c) automatic reset, restart or reboot of the voting device, operating system or application software, (d) a requirement for an unanticipated intervention by a person in the role of poll worker or technician before the test can continue, or (e) error messages and/or audit log entries indicating that a failure has occurred. (Source: Expanded from [VSS2002] I.3.4.3.) Discussion: In plain language, failures are equipment breakdowns, including software crashes, such that continued use without service or replacement is worrisome to impossible. Normal, routine occurrences like running out of paper are not considered failures. Misfeeds of ballots into optical scanners are handled by a separate benchmark (Requirement part1:6.3.3-A), so these are not included as failures for the general reliability benchmark.
Flaw in design or implementation that may result in the qualities or behavior of the voting system deviating from the qualities or behavior that are specified in the VVSG and/or in manufacturer-provided documentation.
Result of a formal evaluation by a test lab or accredited expert; verdict. (Based on [Oxford93] definition #6.)
Logic implemented through the design of an integrated circuit; the programming of a Programmable Logic Device (PLD), Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), Peripheral Interface Controller (PIC), or similar; the integration of smaller hardware components; or mechanical design (e.g., as in lever machines).
Small dot made by resting the point of a writing utensil on a ballot.
Statement by a manufacturer indicating the capabilities, features, and optional functions and extensions that have been implemented in a voting system.
Voting system that includes one or more distinct innovative devices. Discussion: See Part 1 Section 2.7.2, Innovation Class Submissions.
Voting that occurs at a polling place under the supervision of poll workers. Discussion: Also known as poll-site voting.
Examination of a product design, product, process or installation and determination of its conformity with specific requirements or, on the basis of professional judgment, with general requirements. ([ISO04a])
(1) IVVR vote-capture device consisting of a paper ballot and a writing utensil. (2) Paper ballot that was marked by a person using a writing utensil.
Entity with ownership and control over a voting system submitted for testing.
Mark within a voting target that does not conform to manufacturer specifications for a reliably detectable vote. Discussion: See Part 1 Section 1.4.4. The word "marginal" refers to the limit of what is detectable by an optical scanner, not the margin of the page. Marks that are outside of voting targets are called extraneous marks.
Ratio of the misfeed total to the total ballot volume (see Requirement part3:5.3.5-B).
Optical scanner used to count MMPBs.
Structural unit of software or analogous logical design, typically containing several callable units that are tightly coupled. Discussion: Modular design requires that inter-module coupling be loose and occur over defined interfaces. A module should contain all elements needed to compile or interpret successfully and have limited access to data in other modules. A module should be substitutable with another module whose interfaces match the original module. In software, a module typically corresponds to a single source code file or a source code / header file pair. In object-oriented languages, this typically corresponds to a single class of object.
Voting variation in which the voter is entitled to allocate a fixed number of votes (N) over a list of M contest choices or write-ins, with the constraint that at most 1 vote may be allocated to a given contest choice. See also cumulative voting. Discussion: The voter is not obliged to allocate all N votes.
Declarative or informative in nature; not subject to interpretation or compilation as programming language instructions.
Operational test conducted on voting devices during an election, by real voters, to establish confidence that the VVPR is produced correctly when assistive technology is used. Discussion: Devices subjected to observational testing are used for normal collection of votes; the votes so collected are included in the election tally.
Primary election in which the voter may choose a political party at the time of voting and vote in party-specific contests associated with that party, along with non-party-specific contests presented at the same election. Discussion: Also known as pick-your-party primary. Some states require voters to publicly declare their choice of party at the polling place, after which the poll worker provides or activates the appropriate ballot. Other states allow the voters to make their choice of party within the privacy of the voting booth. Voters also are permitted to vote on non-party-specific contests that are presented at the same election.
Test conducted on voting equipment in an active (operational) state.
Tabulator that counts votes recorded by means of marks made on the surface of a paper ballot.
Voting device that records votes, counts votes, and/or produces a report of the vote count from votes cast on paper cards or sheets.
Contest such that eligibility to vote in that contest is restricted based on political party affiliation or lack thereof. Discussion: The affiliation might be the registered affiliation of the voter or it might be an affiliation declared at the time of voting. See closed primary, open primary.
A benchmark used in the VPP. The ratio of the number of cast ballots containing no erroneous votes over the number of cast ballots containing one or more errors (either a vote for an unintended choice, or a missing vote).
Role defined in Part 1 Section 5.4, Table 5-2.
Tabulator that counts votes at the polling place. Discussion: These devices typically tabulate ballots as they are cast and print the results after the close of polls. For DREs and some paper-based systems, these devices provide electronic storage of the vote count and may transmit results to a central location over public telecommunication networks. A tabulator that may be configured for use either in the precinct or in the central location may satisfy the requirements for both Precinct tabulator and Central tabulator.
Election held to determine which candidate(s) will represent a political party for particular offices in the general election and/or to narrow the field of candidates in non-party-specific contests prior to the general election. Discussion: From the functional viewpoint of the voting system, the defining features of a primary election are the presence of party-specific contests and a requirement to report separate totals for the different political parties.
Equipment, such as a booth or partition, provided in conjunction with a vote-capture device to make it difficult for anyone other than the voter to determine through visual observation how the voter voted.
Voting variation in which voters express their intent by ordering contest choices from strongest to weakest preference. Discussion: Implementations of ranked order voting differ in whether voters are required to rank every choice and in the algorithm used to determine a winner or winners.
Cast ballot that has been interpreted by a tabulator to determine what votes it contains. Discussion: A read ballot may or may not be counted. For example, an optical scan cast ballot that has been scanned successfully is a read ballot. See also cast ballot and counted ballot.
(n) Preserved evidence of activities performed or results achieved (e.g., forms, reports, test results). (v) To create a record.
Contest appearing in a ballot style or ballot associated with a given reporting context. Discussion: If a contest is included in a ballot style associated with a given reporting context, that contest is relevant even if no ballots of that style were counted.
Ratio of the report total error to the report total volume (see Requirement part3:5.3.4-B).
Self-contained, time stamped, archival record, such as a printout or analogous electronic file that is produced at a specific time and subsequently protected from modification.
Scope within which reported totals or counts are calculated (e.g., precinct or election district). Discussion: Reporting contexts may overlap in complex ways; for example, in the case of split precincts, there is not a simple containment relationship between election districts and precincts.
Ballot that is flagged or separated for some form of manual processing.
Quality of a voting system or voting device such that a previously undetected change or fault in software cannot cause an undetectable change or error in election outcome.
(A ballot) To mark or otherwise alter a ballot so as to indicate, in a manner supported by the voting system, that the ballot is not to be cast.
Ballot that has been spoiled.
Explicit vote that conflicts with the vote(s) implied by a straight party vote.
Voting variation in which a vote in a designated, special contest (in which the choices are political parties) implies votes in accordance with the endorsements of the selected party in all other contents on the ballot in which straight party voting is allowed.
Operational testing with representative users and tasks to measure the usability (defined as effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction) of the complete product. Discussion: The purpose of a summative test is to evaluate a product through defined measures, rather than diagnosis and correction of specific design problems, as in formative testing.
Administrative unit that is the entire scope within which the voting system is used (e.g., a county). Discussion: The system extent corresponds to the top-level reporting context for which the system generates reports.
Programmed device that counts votes. Discussion: Any distinction between processing individual votes and processing vote totals that resulted from a previous step is not relevant; both of these constitute "counting votes."
Description of one or more tests, procedures by which tests are derived, or a combination of these.
Implementation of a set of operational tests for a particular object (e.g., a specific voting system) or class of objects (e.g., all voting systems than can interpret the language in which the test data are expressed).
Software, firmware, or hardwired logic that is neither application logic nor COTS; e.g., general-purpose software developed by a third party that is either customized (e.g., ported to a new platform, as is Windows CE) or not widely used, or source code generated by a COTS package.
A benchmark used in the VPP. The proportion of users who successfully cast a ballot (whether or not the ballot contains erroneous votes). Failure to cast a ballot might involve problems such as a voter simply "giving up" during the voting session because of an inability to operate the system, or a mistaken belief that one has successfully operated the casting mechanism.
VEBD that communicates ballot information to the voter using light (e.g., via a typical electronic display).
Test conducted in compliance with Requirement part3:5.2.3-D. Discussion: A volume test involves a large number of "test voters" using voting devices in conditions approximating normal use in an election.
(n) Indication of support for a particular contest choice in a manner supported by the voting system.
Device that is used directly by a voter to vote a ballot.
Ballot that has been cast or spoiled.
A benchmark used in the VPP. A measure of voting accuracy and variance, based on the mean accuracy per voter and the associated standard deviation. Each voter is given a certain number of "voting opportunities" within the ballot. The more of these that are successfully completed, the higher the resulting accuracy for that voter.
Confirmation by the voter that all votes were recorded as the voter intended. See also election verification.
Role defined in Part 1 Section 5.4, Table 5-2.
Device that is part of the voting system. Discussion: Components and materials that are vital to the function of the voting device within the voting system, such as smart cards and ballot printers, are considered parts of the device for the purpose of conformity assessment.
Test method that measures how well subjects perform various voting tasks.
Entire array of procedures, people, resources, equipment and locations associated with the conduct of elections. See also, voting system.
(1) Span of time beginning when a ballot is enabled or activated and ending when that ballot is printed (on an EBM), cast (on a DRE), or spoiled. See Part 1 Section 8.2. (2) Interaction between the voter and vote-capture device that occurs during that span of time.
Equipment (including hardware, firmware, and software), materials, and documentation used to define elections and ballot styles, configure voting equipment, identify and validate voting equipment configurations, perform logic and accuracy tests, activate ballots, capture votes, count votes, reconcile ballots needing special treatment, generate reports, transmit election data, archive election data, and audit elections. See also, voting process.
Voting style, option, or feature such as in-person voting, absentee voting, provisional / challenged ballots, review-required ballots, closed primaries, open primaries, write-ins, ballot rotation, straight party voting, cross-party endorsement, split precincts, N-of-M voting, cumulative voting, or ranked order voting.
Vote for a candidate who is explicitly named by the voter in lieu of choosing a candidate who is already listed on the ballot. Discussion: This does not preclude writing in the name of a candidate who is already listed on the ballot.