Back in the Game: Newly-Reconstituted EAC Holds First Meeting

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[Image courtesy of eac.gov]

Yesterday – for the first time since 2010 – the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) held its first meeting to address issues requiring its attention under the Help America Vote Act. Even though the meeting itself lasted less than an hour, it was a remarkably eventful, as evidenced by the EAC’s own press release:

Members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) met Tuesday. This meeting marked the first time the Commission was able to meet with a quorum of Commissioners in four years. The Commission addressed a variety of pressing issues at the meeting. These issues included the accreditation of a new voting system test laboratory; consideration of possible updates to the standards used to test voting systems; and updates to the EAC’s voting system testing program manuals. Additionally, Commissioner Christy McCormick was selected to chair the Commission and Commissioner Thomas Hicks was selected as vice-chair.

“After four years without Commissioners, the EAC has a great deal of work to do,” said Chair McCormick. “Today we took important steps in helping support state and local election officials as they continue to cope with aging voting equipment and limited funds.”

“All three Commissioners recognize that we must operate with a sense of urgency,” Vice-Chair Hicks added. “The Commission does not have the luxury of time; we have already heard from our stakeholders that they expect us to act quickly to address many of the outstanding issues from over the last four years.”

Christy McCormick, Thomas Hicks and Matthew Masterson were sworn in as EAC’s newest members on January 13, 2015 following their nomination by the President and unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on December 16, 2014. There is one vacancy on the commission and any action by the body requires the approval at least three of its members.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to accredit Pro V&V as a third voting system test laboratory under the commission’s lab accreditation program. The new lab facility is now accredited to begin testing whether new voting equipment is able to meet the guidelines set forth in the voluntary voting system guidelines (VVSG). The move follows a recommendation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and after an independent EAC review to address non-technical issues such as conflict-of-interest policies, organizational structure, and recordkeeping protocols. In addition to Pro V&V, SLI Global Solutions and NTS Huntsville have also been accredited by EAC. All three labs will test against the VVSG. Click here for more information about Pro V&V and other EAC accredited labs.

In addition, the EAC was briefed on some changes to the testing program manual and adopted an “Organizational Management Policy” that will allow the Commission’s work to continue in the (hopefully unlikely) event that the EAC were once again to lose its quorum. UPDATE: That document is available online here.

The EAC will reconvene on March 31 and will also host its latest roundtable on March 19.

It’s a small step, but the fact that the EAC has hit the ground running has to be an encouraging development for those of us who wondered if the agency would ever exist again. Congratulations to the members and here’s hoping that the future of the EAC is as active and productive as yesterday’s meeting.

Stay tuned.

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