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Voting System Testing LAP


John Wack and John Rhodes, NIST Software and Systems Division, and Sharon Laskowski, Information Access Division, demonstrating some usability issues on a voting machine.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 (Public Law 107-252) was signed into law by President Bush on October 29, 2002. Section 231 of HAVA requires the Director of NIST to provide for the accreditation of laboratories that conduct testing on the hardware and software of voting systems. In response to the HAVA, the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) has established a program for laboratories that test voting systems.

The Voting System Standards of 2002 (VSS-2002) were approved for release and publication by the Federal Election Commission on April 30, 2002. The VSS-2002 provides for entities called “Independent Test Authorities” (ITAs): laboratories that test to the requirements of the VSS-2002 and certify products that meet the requirements. ITAs were approved by the National Association of State Election Directors. Testing is now conducted by NVLAP-accredited Voting System Testing Laboratories (VSTLs). Product certification is performed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

On December 13, 2005, the EAC unanimously adopted the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines of 2005 (VVSG-2005). The VVSG-2005 increased security requirements for voting systems and expanded access, including the opportunity for disabled individuals to vote privately and independently. The VVSG-2005 took effect in December 2007, at which time voting systems could no longer be tested against VSS-2002 and all previous national standards became obsolete.

VSTLs are required to meet the requirements in NIST Handbook 150, the VSS-2002 with HAVA requirements, VVSG-2005, and any other criteria deemed necessary by the EAC. VSTLs should be familiar with the election and voting communities including the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

Proficiency Testing

No additional requirements at this time.

Requirements Documents

References and Information



Created July 14, 2016, Updated November 15, 2019