News from IACREOT: EAC commissioners update

Some of our readers (and my fellow bloggers) love our “live blogging.” So here goes, live from IACREOT in San Francisco ….

I just got out of an interesting session where EAC commissioners Paul DeGregorio and Donetta Davidson spoke, and picked up a few insights about the thinking of the EAC as well as some of their new initiatives.

Both of the commissioners focused on a similar theme: many, if not most, of the problems that we are seeing in the electoral process in the US today are not directly technological, but involve humans and their interactions with technology. Commissioner DeGregorio at one point in his talk noted that most of the problems he is familiar with in the 2006 primary elections so far have been human ones. Commissioner Davidson had two bullet points on some of her slides, which read “Voting is a human exercise”, followed by “Training is key.”

Commissioner DeGregorio also related some interesting “war” stories, including one from a recent election in Carteret County (North Carolina), where he witnessed pollworkers who were unable to produce a correct zero tape from a voting system. He also showed a wonderful videotape of two elderly pollworkers who were setting up a VVPAT device in the recent San Diego primary election.

Commissioner Davidson’s comments focused on the EAC’s role in testing and certification, and she reiterated that the EAC is now going to accredit testing labs and will certify voting systems based on the reports from the accredited labs. She also focused a lot on the security of the entire election administration process, not just of the voting equipment itself. Commissioner Davidson passed out hard copies of a wonderful document that the EAC just put out, their “Quick Start Management Guide for New Voting Systems.” The “Quick Start” guide is now on the EAC’s website.

One final point; during discussion, Commissioner Davidson referenced the video that her colleague had shown, and she noted that her observation was that pollworkers were much more effective in setting up their pollsites in situations where the paper in the voting device was attached upon delivery, rather than the situations where pollworkers were required to set up the paper in the voting device before the polling place could open.

Now off to my session, on threat assessment. I’ll blog more about that, and a few other things I’ve learned in my visit to the IACREOT meeting, later today and perhaps over the weekend.

BTW, for the non-election geeks, IACREOT stands for “International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers.”