Voting systems must pass rigorous, independent testing and receive certification at the federal and state levels.
Unlike many other elements of the election system, voting systems must pass rigorous, independent testing to specific requirements to receive certification at the federal and state levels prior to being used by local jurisdictions.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) oversees the definition of federal voting system certification requirements and the thorough, independent testing process which determines whether a voting system meets those requirements. Voting system vendors are well-acquainted with the rigors of testing at the federal level and must plan years in advance to stage product releases.
In addition to the federal certification process, many states maintain their own separate certification and testing procedures. Voting system vendors must ensure their systems meet or exceed both the federal and state-level requirements to do business in those states.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 set the requirement for voting systems to be tested by independent, non-federal laboratories, which are called Voting System Test Laboratories, or VSTLs. Voting system vendors are not at liberty to select a VSTL, rather the EAC maintains the authority to designate the VSTL that will perform certification tests and technical review.
The federal and state certification processes provide transparency into the security of voting system solutions as follows:
- Federal and state certification program manuals and guidelines are publicly available.
- Independent voting system test laboratories (VSTLs) that test voting systems are accredited through a public process.
- Information about each certification campaign, including reports from VSTLs attesting to compliance with applicable security requirements, are publicly available.
- Source code, along with thousands and thousands of pages of technical documentation, is securely disclosed to accredited, U.S.-based laboratories, as part of federal and state testing and certification processes.