Saturday, December 16, 2006

Certification testing voting systems

From Vote trust USA

Adequately tested voting systems are a prerequisite for well run elections and to ensure public confidence in election results. When it is completed, the current process of testing voting systems will culminate in New York State’s four Election Commissioners deciding to approve, or “certify” those systems which meet the State’s regulations. Certification testing is ongoing and is proving to be a mixture of good and bad news.

Lacking required technical expertise of their own, the New York State Board of Elections has contracted out the work of machine certification testing to two contractors. The State Board provides nominal oversight, reviewing status reports and monitoring the schedule, but lacks the technical competence to meaningfully evaluate machine vendors and consultants. Unfortunately for New York State voters, the Board of Elections has consistently underestimated the complexity and scale of the task before them.

The principle contractor managing certification testing for the State Board of Elections is CIBER, Inc., one of three large testing companies which have close ties to the voting machine vendors. CIBER was responsible for the certification of several voting systems that were later shown to have defective software and defects, and were subsequently de-certified by several states. CIBER’s performance for New York State has thus far been poor, tending to favor machine vendors’ very loose interpretation of State requirements. Ciber has submitted inadequate drafts of Master Test and Security Test plans, and seems willing to tolerate poor testing practices in order to allow machines to pass tests they otherwise would not.

User acceptance testing definition

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