Ohio picks voting system test firm

Ohio has chosen SysTest Labs to test electronic voting systems for security and functionality. The Denver-based company is one of only three accredited by the Election Assistance Commission to provide electronic voting system certification testing.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 established the EAC as an oversight board. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has established some standards for electronic voting machines to meet, while individual states sometimes add their own requirements.

The company will examine configuration management, election operations and internal controls on the three voting systems Ohio uses. The company will bring in computer security experts from Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania and University of California in Santa Barbara to assist in the testing.

Electronic voting systems have been controversial in recent years, particularly the systems that use touch screens. Critics allege that without a paper record to use in recounts and audits, there's no way to ensure the machines record the votes correctly. Proponents say the machines make voting and counting the votes faster, and offer options for disabled voters that other voting systems can't match.

The contract is worth about $1.7 million.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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