Remote ballot marking systems are one of the new uses of technology in election administration. As part of a vote-by-mail system, they allow voters to receive a blank ballot to mark electronically, print, and then cast by returning the printed ballot to the elections office. In a recent project, NIST, the Center for Civic Design, Verified Voting Foundation and experts in security, accessibility, usability, and election administration set out to answer the question: Can we make remote ballot marking systems both accessible and secure, so voters can use and trust them? We were pleased to discover that these goals can co-exist in a well-designed system, and in many cases they support each other. Following the lead of state election directors, we started with strong principles and supporting guidelines for remote ballot marking systems focusing on the important goals for any election system.
These principles provide clear direction for designing and deploying a remote ballot marking system can help election officials choose (or develop) systems that meet the needs of election integrity as well as making it easier for everyone to vote. The nine principles are listed below.
This isn’t yet a standard. For that, the next step to create a standard is to write normative requirements (and test assertions). But we think it’s a good start. More importantly, we can begin the process with a set of goals that everyone can agree on, before trying to write detailed technical requirements.
Want to know more? Visit the project page, Remote ballot marking systems: secure and accessible, to learn more about the project.
Read the project report, Principles for remote ballot marking systems, to read the guidelines that support each principle.