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Usability and Accessibility of Voting Systems


Directed by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 NIST has been working with the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) to develop voting system standards - Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Our project, “Usability, Accessibility, and Privacy Requirements”, is part of the NIST Voting Project to improve voting systems. Our focus is on defining the usability and accessibility standards and associated test methods.

For information on the NIST Voting Project see


HAVA guides NIST accessibility and usability work. All voters should be able to vote effectively, efficiently and comfortably. The goal is that the resulting ballot accurately reflects the intention of the voter, and that all voters can easily cast a valid vote the way they intended. The voting systems must be accessible for individuals with disabilities. Usability and accessibility requirements include a broad range of factors, including physical abilities, language skills, and technology experience. For usability and accessibility, we focus on voters and poll workers, the tasks they need to perform, and how the voting system supports those tasks. We design standards based on best practice and research.

We develop conformance test methods that will be used to determine which systems are usable and accessible, and should be certified by the EAC as suitable for purchase by the States.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Section 3 "Usability, Accessibility, and Privacy Requirements" of VVSG 05 and VVSG TGDC Recommendations
  • Usability performance benchmarks
  • Plain language guidance for ballots and instructions
  • Guidance for interaction design
  • Accessibility guidelines
  • Usability of documentation
  • Conformance test methods

Lead Organizational Unit:



Sharon Laskowski
Lana Lowry


Sharon Laskowski
Visualization and Usability Group