ACM committee releases study on statewide voter registration databases

The U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) released a sixty-page report recently, “Statewide Databases of Registered Voters: Study of Accuracy, Privacy, Usability, Security, and Reliability Issues.” This report essentially breaks down the issue of statewide voter registration databases by five criteria: accuracy, privacy, usability, security and reliability. The report provides many recommendations and discussion of issues associated with each of the five issues, echoing recommendations that the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project made in July 2001 about voter registration systems.

Having others help focus attention on statewide voter registration databases is a great, as readers of Election Updates know I’ve been concerned about the lack of testing and certification of these databases for a long time (having discussed these concerns again most recently at the AEI-Brookings event, see my slides, I also talked about testing and certification of voter registration databases at the “Voting System Testing Summit” in November 2005). Also, in October 2005 I wrote for the NIST conference on voting system threats about security risks associated with statewide voter registration systems.

One issue this ACM report seems to not have mentioned (I haven’t found mention of it yet after my first quick read of the report) is the important issue of interoperability, which was called for in the recent Carter-Baker commission report, is something many states are now discussing, and which Thad and I have recently written about in our study, “The Next Big Election Challenge.”