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NIST is having a workshop in October on common data format for electronic
Voting Systems. Here's the announcement with some added highlights:
CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
NIST Workshop on a Common Data Format for Electronic Voting Systems
29-30 OCTOBER 2009, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY,
The goal of this two-day workshop is to identify and agree upon a set of
requirements for a common data format for voting systems. While there have been
many calls for a common data format for voting systems, there is little
consensus on the requirements for this format or what it is to accomplish.
Possible goals for a common data format include interoperability of different
equipment, auditability, transparency, publishing (communication with consumers
of election data, such as media outlets), integration between polls and
registration, transition to electronic record-keeping, or the ability just to
"get the data out" by any means possible. Stakeholders include manufacturers,
election officials, the EAC, consumers of election data, voters, organizations
with existing data formats (including OASIS and the Voting Information
Project), academics, and others with related work.
Different goals have different consequences for the requirements, the scope of
work, and the testing that must follow. For example:
+ Human-readable versus machine readable-human-readability matters for
transparency and auditing, whereas integration of equipment indicates
use of an existing data exchange syntax that is optimized for
machine-reading rather than human-reading.
+ Flexible and extensible versus uniform and complete-interoperability is
helped by a standard data format only if the format is used in the same
way by everyone; other goals may accommodate a more flexible and
+ Secure versus convenient-securing the records to make them valid for
auditing could also hamper intermediate processing that might be needed
to integrate disparate pieces of equipment.
+ Format versus content-to "get the data out" it is more important to
specify the data to be provided, the points in the process at which it
is to be provided, and the mechanism for export than the format of the
+ Publishing results involves only the reporting phase of the election
and should not include such information as individual ballot images.
+ Interoperability might only be needed at certain points in the system
+ Registration may or may not be within scope.
+ Low-level event log data may only be useful for auditing.
+ If the data format is to be used for auditing, usability testing with
auditors is indicated.
+ If the goal is interoperability, interoperability testing is different
from conformity assessment
This workshop aims to (a) begin a discussion on the above issues among experts
in the elections community who would work with a common data format, including
election officials, auditors, manufacturers, testing labs, and others involved
in election analysis, and (b) arrive at basic scoping for what a common data
format is to accomplish and the basic requirements for what it must do.
Discussions during the workshop will address the following:
* The current state and uses of common data formats;
* "The customer"-existing and potential;
* The customer's goals-what data needs to be encoded in the format and how
will it be used;
* Next steps towards a common data format;
* Willing contributors.
Workshop attendees are encouraged to submit papers in advance of the workshop.
Two types of submissions are sought:
1. Position papers on requirements for common data formats (2-5 pages). Topics
of interest include (but are not limited to) the following:
+ What problems or needs should be addressed by a common data format for
any particular application, e.g., auditing, transparency of election
results, device interoperability, or testing;
+ What data should be represented by a common data format;
+ When in the voting process should the data be available.
2. Papers describing current uses of data formats in U.S. elections and
experiences with using the formats (2-10 pages), including (but not limited
to) the following:
+ What problems were being addressed by use of the format;
+ Whether customization was necessary;
+ Success of the effort;
+ Lessons learned.
Authors may submit papers that have been presented or published elsewhere.
Accepted papers and presentation slides will be made available on the web as
well as in printed form to workshop attendees. Manuscripts will not be formally
Manuscripts should be sent to email@example.com by 21 August 2009. Decisions will
be made by 09 September 2009.
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