NAS report, "Electronic Voting Will Present Challenges for November"

The National Academies of Science released a report this morning, “Electronic Voting Will Present Challenges for November.” The thirteen-page “letter report”, in the form of a letter addressed to Lawrence Brandt of the National Science Foundation, stems from discussions during the May 2006 workshop that the NAS held, and the previous 2005 project the NAS conducted on electronic voting.

The report overviews the existing state of election administration in the United States, and concludes that “some jurisdictions — and possibly many — may not be well prepared for the arrival of the November 2006 elections with respect to the deployment and use of electronic voting equipment and related technology …” The first section of the report lists a number of reasons, coming from the work of the NAS e-voting panel in 2005 and 2006, for why many jurisdictions may not be well-prepared for the November 2006 election cycle.

The report issues a number of recommendations, many of which I’ve advocated for some time:

  1. Jurisdictions should plan for contingencies, and develop backup plans for election day problems. Here the NAS report focuses primarily on failures of e-voting equipment and related technologies on election day, which should be part of any jurisdiction’s contingency plan.
  2. “Jurisdictions should band together in their interactions with vendors.”
  3. Election officials should work together to share information about vendors and voting technologies.
  4. Jurisdictions should try to conduct parallel tests of their voting systems on election day, if they can implement such a testing regime before the election.

Again, another helpful report from the NAS. As a member of the NAS panel that helped to produce this report (and the 2005 report), I again wanted to thank Herb Lin of NAS who had primary responsibility for developing the workshops and writing the two reports, and my colleagues on the NAS panel who were both challenging and enjoyable to work with.