Flurry of Voting Activity

By David Bruggeman
March 22, 2007

Readers of Hill Tech Happenings will have noticed the recent string of voting related hearings in Congress. It’s just one sign of the continued interest in voting reform expressed both in Congress and the Executive Branch. Once the flurry of hearings end (for the moment) tomorrow, we can give you a more in-depth analysis of the situation. But we thought it important to make a note of some things going on at the moment.

First, the third of a series of hearings the Committee on House Administration has been holding on election reform takes place Friday, March 23, at 9:30 a.m. in 1310 Longworth Office Building. Princeton Professor (and USACM-EC member) Ed Felten will be testifying at the hearing, along with several elections officials, voting reform advocates, two Members of Congress, and the Governor of Florida, among others. While the other two hearings (held on March 15 and 20) have focused on voting reform more generally, tomorrow’s hearing will focus more on Rep. Holt’s legislation, HR 811. Expect some discussion of the Sarasota voting trouble as well, with the Governor of Florida scheduled to testify. The previous hearings considered accessibility, source code review, and post-election audits. Berkeley Professor (and USACM member) David Wagner testified at the hearing on March 15. The Committee has been slow to post anything on these hearings, and the minority website has only a couple of press releases on the testimony.

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) met today in Gaithersburg at the headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The TGDC is responsible for recommending the next generation of voting system guidelines to the Election Assistance Commission. The meeting will continue tomorrow, and you can access meeting documents and a webcast online. The current draft (estimated at about 80% complete, and over 500 pages) is also available online. Today’s meeting focused on the progress of the three TGDC subcommittees and no resolutions were introduced. The TGDC adopted the subcommittees draft material with only small changes. Tomorrow the meeting will discuss more cross-cutting initiatives, such as the innovation class and the software independence guidelines approved at the December 2006 meeting. USACM wrote a letter in support of the software independence recommendation, which suggested the next generation of voting system guidelines should certify only those voting systems that could verify the results of an election independent of the underlying software.

Expect a more detailed analysis of the recent voting activity sometime next week. There is more to come both tomorrow and over the next few months.