Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How SysTest Lost Its Certification to Test Optical Scanners

If you've been wondering what SysTest could do to lose its federal certification, this report on the suit Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold) filed against SysTest last month provides a glimpse.

Federal certification of election systems by independent voting system test labs is supposed to assure voters that these systems can't be hacked. The test labs are certified by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) with the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST).

Last October, they revoked SysTest's certification. The testing program is now suspended in New York and many other states.

According to the report from the Courthouse News Service, the EAC began questioning SysTest's procedures and requesting additional information that was not forthcoming as early as last July (08). The National Institute of Standards and Testing finally suspended SysTest last October, after an on-site review. You can read the full article by following the link, but here's an excerpt.

Courthouse News Service: "The [Premier] complaint then cites five paragraphs, attributed to the NIST report, on 'serous concerns about SysTest's performance of voting system testing.'
Excerpts include: 'the test methods being used were not fully developed, validated, mapped to the requirement of the applicable standards, and controlled under SysTest's document control policy ... it was unclear who at SysTest had the ultimate responsibility for test method development ... During the observed tests, it appeared that the testers were running the tests for the first time. ... Basic tests, such as the system ready test, were not conducted successfully. ... Some anomalies or potential problems during testing were not reported by the testers but were pointed out by members of the on-site team.' These citations are from the first two of five paragraphs."
It sure doesn't make this voter feel warm and fuzzy about the optical scanners that SysTest was certifying to replace our lever machines in New York. How about you?

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