EAC Seeks Advice On Voting Databases, ACM Provides Expert Testimony

By Cameron
April 26, 2005

ACM recently formed a committee of experts (names and affiliations below) to provide states with guidance on implementing statewide voter-registration databases. Today the Committee outlined its efforts before the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is seeking input on its proposed guidance to the states regarding these databases.

One of the more complicated mandates of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) – federal law passed in the wake of the controversial 2000 Presidential Election – is that all 50 states have statewide voter-registration databases in place by the end of this year. The mandate raises many technical and policy issues that states and the EAC (which oversees the Act) are grappling with. It recently issued proposed guidance that touches on a couple of major issues, but doesn’t provide much technical guidance. Today the EAC held a public hearing to get input on its proposal, which provided a good opportunity for ACM to outline its efforts.

ACM’s Committee on Guidelines for Implementation of Voter Registration Databases is in its initial stages, but it will likely focus on three major issues – reliability, accuracy and integrity, and privacy. The study will have mostly technical recommendations, but will also focus on policy in areas where policy decisions create technical implementation issues.

The Committee is planning to finish its work by Fall 2005, but will comment in more detail on EAC’s proposed guidance by the end of May. We will post those comments when the Committee submits them to the EAC.

Members of ACM’s Committee on Guidelines for Implementation of Voter Registration Databases:

Dr. Paula Hawthorn (retired database company executive), Co-chair of Study
Dr. Barbara Simons (retired, IBM Research and former ACM President), Co-chair of Study
Prof. Chris Clifton (Computer Science, Purdue)
Prof. David Wagner (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UC Berkeley)
Dr. Steven M. Bellovin (Computer Science, Columbia)
Dr. Rebecca N. Wright (Computer Science, Stevens Institute of Technology)
Dr. Arnon Rosenthal (Research Scientist, MITRE Corporation)
Mr. Ralph Spencer Poore (Consultant, Privacy and Security)
Ms. Lillie Coney (Associate Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center)
Mr. Robert Gellman (privacy and security consultant)
Dr. Harry Hochheiser (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility)