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IEEE P1622 Common Data Format Standardization Update. John P. Wack National Institute of Standards and Technology Outline. NIST/IEEE/OASIS CDF strategy review The IEEE P1622 Blank Ballot Distribution standard Review process and remaining issues. Some Terms Used….

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IEEE P1622 Common Data Format Standardization Update

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ieee p1622 common data format standardization update

IEEE P1622 Common Data Format Standardization Update

John P. Wack

National Institute of Standards and Technology


NIST/IEEE/OASIS CDF strategy review

The IEEE P1622 Blank Ballot Distribution standard

Review process and remaining issues

some terms used
Some Terms Used…

BBD – Blank Ballot Distribution

BDS – Ballot Delivery System

PAR – Project Authorization Request

VIP – PEW’s Voting Information Project

VRDB – Voter Registration DB

EMS – Election Management System

ieee p1622 review
IEEE P1622Review

Main goal: specify a standard or set of standards for a common data format for election systems

Revitalized in 2010 with NIST involvement, NIST now vice-chair, editor of standard, secretary

Sponsoring Society: IEEE Computer Society/Standards Activities Board (C/SAB)

OASIS EML is now basis for the new standard

Recently approved UOCAVA Blank Ballot Distribution standard

Focused standards to follow targeting other aspects of elections

p1622 membership
P1622 Membership

ESS, Dominion, Scytl, Everyone Counts, Oracle, election auditing companies, others

Some election officials and technical staff

Other organizations, e.g., PEW, ASA

Other government, e.g., NIST, EAC, FVAP

Interested parties, e.g., Verified Voting, academic experts

oasis eml review

OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) EML (Election Markup Language)

XML-based, comprehensive, global framework

Has seen increasing manufacturer support from Hart, ESS, Scytl, Dominion, others

International framework, scoped also to address U.S. election environment

OASIS working with P1622 to produce an aligned IEEE/OASIS standard

nist ieee oasis strategy
Work within P1622 and OASIS to produce 1622.x standards, reference them in VVSGs

Develop ‘use case’ standards that target slices of election data

UOCAVA blank ballot distribution for FVAP

Event logging

Election reporting

Voter registration DB export

Could develop reference implementations for 1622.x standards to facilitate adoption, testing

NIST/IEEE/OASIS to develop a set of CDF standards in 2012

p1622 bbd standard scope
P1622 BBD Standard Scope

At Feb 2011 meeting, P1622 voted to focus on first standard to support FVAP in blank ballot delivery (BBD) for UOCAVA voters

Involved re-scoping PAR (IEEE’s project authorization request) to match scope of standard

This standard specifies XML-based electronic data interchange formats for blank ballot distribution, primarily to satisfy the needs of the UOCAVA and MOVE Acts….This scope does notinclude return of cast ballots by electronic means.

Involves data export formats for

UOCAVA voter information from voter registration databases

Ballot information from election management systems

Information required to track voted ballots

fvap requirements
FVAP intention is to fund states via grants to develop blank ballot delivery systems (BDS) in time for 2012 elections

UOCAVA voters will print paper ballots

Ballots can be pre-formatted or built dynamically

BDS will significantly improve ability to get ballots to voters on time

EAC Roadmap Fall 2011

For electronic transmission of blank ballots to be successful, they should be implemented in a manner that allows multiple states to participate. To assist in this the TGDC, with technical support from NIST, will develop common data format specifications for ballots and ballot definition that can be used by FVAP and the states. FVAP is also planning on assisting States in 2010 with data conversion services and tools to Common Data Formats.

FVAP Requirements
bbd standard
BBD Standard


Schemas involved

The SEAL digital signature structure

Associated example files


EML hybrid schema created to make it easier for states to start using EML files for BBD

Combines elements from other schemas dealing with

Information about the elections

Contests and candidates


EO’s can build the EML file from

If already using VIP, a VIP feed file

From VRDB and EMS exports

overview cont d
The BDS can use the EML file to find and present to a voter an associated ballot

A generic ballot can be built dynamically from the information

Or, can point to ballots, e.g., PDF ballots

Voter downloads the presented ballot from the BDS, prints it, and returns the marked ballot via postal mail

Overview (Cont’d)
overview cont d13
Overview (Cont’d)

Voter can be notified of received ballot status, as required by MOVE Act

BDS can send an EML message file to jurisdiction indicting that a voter has downloaded a ballot

Jurisdiction, upon receiving the ballot, can update its VRDB with ballot status

Jurisdiction sends an EML message file to the BDS with received ballot status

BDS can notify voter, e.g., by an email

the seal structure
The SEAL Structure

An EML structure for holding digital signatures, i.e., for signing the EML file

Based on W3C guidance for signing XML

The Manifest element can hold hash of external objects referenced in <URL> element, e.g., a PDF ballot

Conformance requires using SEAL

example files
Example files

Example files included to show structures within the associated EML files and the SEAL structure

Must download example files from a persistent IEEE URL

EML distribution available from OASIS

bbd standard status
BBD Standard Status

Standard released for balloting Aug 17

50 in ballot pool eligible to vote

39 affirmative votes

6 negative w/comments, 2 abstain

86% affirmative

Released for recirculation Sep 30

Released for 2nd recirculation Oct 17

IEEE recommended approval Dec 7

Publication expected Jan 2012

comments received
Comments Received

Non-adherence to IEEE Standards Style Guide

Inconsistency with PAR

Persistence of URLs for EML, examples

Concerns over security (out of scope)

Concerns over normative language

Adhered carefully to IEEE style guidance

Ensured conformance to PAR

Clarified definitions, language, structure

Added a conformance section and clarified requirement statements

Created URLs to be persistent, will provide hashes

Added security considerations section

Added additional requirements for the SEAL structure and return postal address


Concern over security of Internet voting possibly prompting many comments over security

More documentation and worked examples needed

FVAP’s planned Data Migration Tool would be helpful but status uncertain

reasons for success thus far
Reasons for Success Thus Far

There is always dumb luck, e.g., the timing was right, failure not an option, right actors

FVAP had a need and a deadline

The scope was narrow

Organizations had a stake in the success of the outcome

General agreement from vendors to activists to EOs that a CDF standard is necessary