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Test Development for Voting Systems

NIST and Test Development

NIST is developing a set of public test suites to be used as part of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's (EAC) Testing and Certification Program authorized under the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The tests correspond to Voluntary Voting System Guideline (VVSG) requirements in the 2007 VVSG Recommendations, which is currently under review by the EAC, and certain parts of the 2005 VVSG revision, which is currently under public review by the EAC. Test labs will be able to use these publicly available test suites to help determine that the VVSG requirements are met by voting systems.

The test suites address human factors, security and core functionality requirements for voting systems as specified in the VVSG. Use of the public test suites will produce consistent results and promote transparency of the testing process. The test suites can also assist manufacturers in the development of conforming products by providing precise test specifications. Also, they can help reduce the cost of testing since each test lab would no longer need to develop its own test suites.  Finally, a uniform set of public test suites can increase election officials' and voters' confidence that voting systems conform to VVSG requirements.

The test suites have been made available for initial review to subject matter experts inside and outside of NIST, including Voting System Testing Laboratories (VSTLs) the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), and the EAC. The test materials are now available here for public review:

The VVSG encompasses a wide range of technologies, each demanding its own test suite. Every test suite, comprised of the tests and documentation, is uniquely designed. In order to build a test suite, each and every requirement in the VVSG is scrutinized. Often times, a single requirement results in many unique tests. Each test needs to be robust, self-contained, correct, and usable. Finally, each test is traceable to one or more VVSG requirements.

NIST has extensive experience in developing test suites for a variety of different standards and technologies as diverse as electronic commerce, healthcare and national defense. NIST developed test suites including: XML, the key web standard for enabling electronic commerce, SQL database standard and several graphics standards. NIST is also developing test suites to implement the Nationwide Health Information Network. The test suites address the core functionality of these systems as defined in the applicable standards. More information on NIST's test development efforts is available here.

Created May 22, 2009, Updated January 5, 2023