To facilitate audits of election results and making the election process more transparent, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will host a workshop next month to discuss creating a common digital "language" for the data produced by electronic voting systems.
The Common Data Format Workshop, to be held Oct. 29 and 30 at NIST's campus in Gaithersburg, Md., will bring together election officials, auditors, manufacturers, testing labs, and others involved in election analysis. Because the subject matter is so new, the workshop's discussions will aim to establish agreement on what the goals of a common format should be.
"While there have been many calls for a common data format workshop for voting systems, there is little consensus on the requirements for this format, or what it should accomplish," says computer security expert John Wack, part of NIST's voting team. In addition to auditability and transparency, Wack says that possible goals include integration between polling and registration devices, easing the transition to electronic record-keeping, or the ability to make data public.