Guidelines for Voting Systems Available for Public Comment

US Access Board logoFrom the US Access Board...

Federal guidelines for voting systems implemented under the Help America Vote Act are currently available for public comment. Issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) provide principles and criteria for assessing the basic functionality, accessibility, and security of voting equipment.

The EAC released the document, referred to as VVSG 2.0 (PDF), on February 28 for a 90-day comment period, as indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register. The VVSG 2.0 updates guidelines first issued in 2005 and revised in 2015 and features a new streamlined structure comprised of high-level system design goals with broad descriptions of the functions that make up voting systems. The proposal also includes moving technical requirements and test assertions to separate documents that detail how voting systems can meet the new Principles and Guidelines in order to obtain certification. Those requirements and test assertions will be made available for public comment at a later date. The EAC seeks comments on all sections of the Principles and Guidelines including the proposed restructuring. Comments are due May 29.

For further information, visit the EAC’s website or contact Ryan Macias at (301) 563-3931 or votingsystemguidelines@eac.gov.

Resources Available on Voting and Polling Place Accessibility

From the US Access Board:

The word "vote" with a wheelchair embeddedVoting is a fundamental and protected right for all citizens, including those with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws, people with disabilities must have full and equal opportunities to vote. The Department of Justice (DOJ), which regulates and enforces ADA mandates that apply to state and local governments, offers several guides on the subject. These include the “ADA Checklist for Polling Places,” [PDF] a 25-page resource DOJ recently updated that explains what makes a polling place accessible from entry onto the site to voting areas. It also recommends design remedies and provides a survey checklist for evaluating polling place accessibility. Other resources from DOJ include a bulletin [PDF]  that provides solutions to common access problems at polling places and a guide [PDF] to federal laws that protect the rights of voters with disabilities.

In addition to the ADA, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 established requirements for voting systems used in Federal elections and requires access to polling places and voting systems for persons with disabilities. Under the law, each precinct in the country must have at least one accessible voting machine or system so that people with disabilities, including those with vision impairments, are afforded the same opportunity for participation, including privacy and independence, available to other voters. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which implements HAVA and issues guidance on meeting the requirements of the law, including guidelines for voting systems, is another key resource on accessible voting. The EAC offers a “BeReady16” toolkit that includes a section on accessibility, and other resources on accessible polling places and voting systems for voters with disabilities and voting officials. Visit EAC’s website at www.eac.gov for further information.

Those who encounter accessibility issues in voting can contact the Voting Section of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division which enforces civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote, including HAVA and the Voting Rights Act. Complaints can be filed through an online form or submitted at voting.section@usdoj.gov (email), (800) 253-3931 (phone), (202) 307-3961 (fax), or the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Room 7254 – NWB, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20530.