The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has operated without a quorum of commissioners for several years. In the final hours of the 113th Congress, the Senate voted to confirm three long-stalled nominees to serve as commissioners at the EAC. The EAC will have a reconstituted quorum once these three individuals are sworn in over the next couple of weeks.
While the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) did not take a position on the EAC, it did note the EAC’s important existing role in the standard-setting and certification process for voting machines used by jurisdictions across the country. The PCEA and BPC understand that the new commissioners have many immediate concerns and tasks once they assume office. However, the multiple years without a quorum have led to such uncertainty in the voting system technology market that election officials are worried that they may be forced to purchase machines performing to decade-old standards for the foreseeable future. There are many needed reforms to the voting system standards and to the federal government’s testing and certification program. BPC will continue to provide input about those long-term reforms.
The long-term reforms are important, but there exist three immediate actions that the new commissioners could take that are reasonable and responsible and would provide more certainty to the voting systems market. Former PCEA co-chairs Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, who are working with BPC to implement the PCEA’s recommendations, encourage the new EAC commissioners to take the following short term actions to address the most pressing concerns on voting technology when they assume office:
- EAC should adopt the pending Draft Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1, which would update the existing standards before a full rewrite. There should be a reasonable transition period for the implementation of new standards.
- EAC should adopt the Voting System Testing and Certification Program Manual Version 2.0, which provides more detail about the testing and certification program than the earlier version and tracks to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1.
- EAC should adopt the Voting System Test Laboratory Program Manual Version 2.0, which provides more detail about the voting system test laboratory program than the earlier version and tracks to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.1.
You can read the full letter to the EAC commissioners here.