Require Vendors to Provide Information on Instant Runoff and
On April 30, 2002, the Federal
Election Commission (FEC) approved the Voting Systems Standards for
release and publication, and on May 17, the new standards were
posted on the FEC's
website. They include provisions that will make it more likely
new voting equipment can support instant runoff voting and
The document represents a three
year effort by the FEC, its Office of Election Adminstration, and
election officials and administrators throughout the country. The
Standards ensure that election equipment certified for purchase by
participating states -- a majority of the 50 states at this point --
will be accurate, reliabile, and dependable.
Drafts of this document were
released for public comment twice, generating significant public
interest and comment from a variety of interests including vendors,
election officials, academics, technical experts, special interest
advocacy groups, and concerned citizens. Many sections of the
Standards were revised to reflect issues raised by these comments.
With great support work by
staffers Caleb Kleppner and Eric Olson and assistance from allied electoral reform and civil rights
, the Center for Voting and
Democracy submitted two letters, one in July
2001 and one in January 2002, and
its director Rob Richie was invited to testify to FEC commissioners
in April. Perhaps its most important recommendation was incorporated
into the final standards.
In Volume 1 of the standards,
Section 126.96.36.199 on "Voting Variations" is introduced with this paragraph:
"There are significant variations
among the election laws of the 50 states with respect to permissible
ballto contents, voting options, and the associated ballot counting
logic. The TDP accompanying the system shall specifically identify
which of the following items can and cannot
be supported by the system, as well as how the system
can implement the items supported." The subsequent list of items has
been revised from previous drafts to include: "m) cumulative voting"
and "n) ranked order voting".
The Center requested these changes
in our January 2002 letter to the
FEC -- both the recommendation to clarify in this section whether a
system cannot support a particular feature and the recommendation to
include cumulative voting and ranked order voting.
Note that these new requirements
still doesn't mean a system needs to support alternative voting
systems like instant runoff voting, but it adds to the pressure on
equipment manufacturers to do so. It will take the work of
supporters of reform in states to push for states and localities to
require equipment support of alternative voting methods to be built
into state law.
For more on the FEC standards and
this issue in general, please see:
to New Standards
to Voting equipment
Sen. Dodd's remarks on Senate