Through a collaborative process between the department and the VSAP Advisory Committee, the project adopted 14 distinct principles to guide the design and implementation of new voting systems. These principles were formed by gathered data through focus groups, community discussions, operational needs and the perspectives of Advisory Committee members.
General Voting System Principles
- The voting system must provide for transparency. The processes and transactions associated with how the system is set up, run, and stored should be easy for the public to understand and verify. This should include making hardware components available for inspection, and source code to the extent that the manner of doing so would not jeopardize system security or availability.
- The voting system must be scalable. The system must provide sufficient technical and physical capacity to accommodate large and complex ballot styles, growing language needs, extremely large numbers of precincts and consolidation of elections with local districts and municipalities.
- The voting system must be flexible. It must provide the ability to adapt to different election types, environments, and changing regulatory requirements, without the need to replace the entire system or to undertake costly system modifications that potentially compromise security.
- The voting system must instill public trust by having the ability to produce a physical and tangible record of a voter’s ballot to verify the ballot was marked as intended before it is cast and to ensure auditability of the system. It must demonstrate to voters, candidates, and the general public that all votes are counted as cast.
- The voting system must have integrity and be accountable to voters and follow existing regulations. System features must protect against fraud and tampering. It should also be easy to audit and produce useful, accessible data to verify vote counts and monitor system performance.
- The voting system must offer a variety of options to cast a vote to ensure that a single/fixed method of voting does not prove to be a barrier and source of disenfranchisement for any group of voters. The system should allow for variety in the location, time, and equipment used to cast a ballot.
- The voting system must guarantee a private and independent voting experience for all voters, including voters with a full range of types of disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency. Voting system features must allow the voter to select the language, adjust display features, alternate ballot formats (e.g. Audio Ballot), and method of controlling the marking tool, allowing voters to cast a ballot independently.
- The voting system must be easy for all voters to use, in particular, for voters with a full range of types of disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency. The system must support plain language and be intuitive, user-friendly, and accessible to all, in order to minimize and easily identify voter errors. It should also provide all voters the ability to easily correct any errors that appear on their ballot prior to casting their ballot.
- The voting system should be easy and reliable for election workers to use, set-up, breakdown, and explain.
- The voting system must be portable. It should be lightweight and compact enough for transportation, set up, and efficient storage. A portable system could include features such as hand grips, handles, straps, and wheels that make transporting and maneuvering the voting system easy.
- The voting system must include features for safe and secure storage. It should include features such as locks and security seals to protect the integrity of the machine while in the custody of election workers or in storage with election officials.
- The voting system must have minimal and/or flexible power and connectivity requirements. It should not require such an extensive amount of power and connectivity that it limits locations where the voting system can be deployed.
- The voting system must have minimal requirements for system boot/programming at polling sites and/or vote centers. It must also provide intuitive and quick fix troubleshooting solutions to empower election workers on Election Day. It should be easy to set up for operation by election workers at polling sites and/or vote centers.
- The voting system must be cost-effective. Costs considered should include procurement, operating, and maintenance costs as well as consideration of expected system/equipment lifespan.