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ACM Policy Council Offers Technology Assistance to Presidential Commission on Election Administration

USACM Cites Technology Requirements Critical to Modern Voting Systems

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold


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Washington, DC – June 20, 2013 – ACM’s U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) sent a letter to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration highlighting the technology requirements that are critical to an effective voting process.  The letter was sent in advance of the Commission’s first meeting on June 21, in Washington, DC.  The requirements, which are unique to today’s voting systems, are designed to ensure trust, timeliness, security, privacy, accuracy, accessibility, and usability in the age of computer-based technologies.

In the letter to Presidential Commission co-chairs Robert Bauer and Benjamin Ginsberg, USACM Chair Eugene Spafford noted that technical expertise is important to understand the risks and advantages of different technologies.  He urged the Commission to take advantage of expertise available from technology researchers and practitioners in academia, government, and industry, and offered USACM’s continuing advice and recommendations on technology issues as they arise.

      USACM cited a series of requirements that are appropriate to voting systems.  They include:

                     · Reliability: Minimizing the chances of failures and ensure the success of holding an election for which citizens trust the results, whether or not they supported the outcome.

                     · Responsiveness: Ensuring voters can register, vote, and be notified of results within the time limits required by the system.

                     · Security: Preventing the insertion of users or votes into the system, the removal of votes, or the determination of vote content by unauthorized personnel.

                     · Privacy: Protecting the identities and votes of system users.

                     · Auditing: Allowing ballots to be recounted accurately and without revealing voters' individual choices.

                     · Accessibility: Ensuring voting systems, including voting technologies, are accessible and usable for every citizen throughout the entire voting process. Improved voting accessibility to meet the needs of a wide variety of people is an important part of increasing participation in elections.

                     · Usability: Ensuring validated design of paper and electronic ballots so users can confidently record their intent.

The USACM letter also noted that technology has unique capabilities that can improve voting access for traditionally disenfranchised constituencies such as disabled and military voters. Such technology must be both accessible to those with disabilities and usable so that every voter can have an efficient, effective and satisfying voting experience.


With nearly 100,000 members, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council (USACM) serves as the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.


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