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New Standards for Elections:
A forum on technical and nontechnical requirements for voting systems

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cronkhite Living Room, Cronkhite Graduate Center
6 Ash Street, Cambridge MA

DATE: Saturday, February 12, 2005
TIME: 1PM – 5PM

Sponsors:

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Boston Section
Greater Boston Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (GBC/ACM)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts
Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Moderator: Carol Rose, Executive Director, ACLU of Massachusetts.
Host: Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, contributing member of the P1583 committee and Radcliffe Institute Fellow. (http://www.notablesoftware.com/evote.html)

Voting equipment standards are an important new development in the US:

Federal election standards of any sort are new, and strongly based on civil rights legislation
New standards for voting equipment are required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) (2002) which requires nationwide standards for deployment of improved voting equipment by January 1, 2006

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) must approve these standards by April 9, 2005

IEEE Standards Association Voting Systems Standards (SCC38) Project on Voting Equipment (P1583) was established in 2001 to meet the need for voluntary industry standards for voting equipment – but the “Draft Standard for Evaluation of Voting Equipment” has numerous areas of contention and disagreement and is not final.

New election technologies, esp. cryptographic election protocols, may provide provably clean elections, but are new, complex, and not fully tested in practice, and raise new questions of election transparency, while also raising the possibility of a new standard of technical confidence in election practice
New expectations for the democratic process are growing in the US, and demand is rising for true national standards for election operations.

This forum provided an opportunity for technical and policy experts and interested citizens to discuss the voting system standards effort and broader issues regarding the national reform of election operations, with members of the P1583 committee and voting equipment vendors. Invited speakers provided background and status information on these topics. The meeting included a large portion of open discussion from the floor on technical and nontechnical opportunities for election reform through standards.The event was free and open to the public.