Testing Voting Machinery


Testing the software in voting machinery is not an easy task.  Yet, in many states, counties and municipalities performing this difficult task is required by statute.  Moreover this difficult and largely thankless task is mandated without any guidance on how to do the testing well. 


Here are a few, quick questions:

How many test ballots are enough?

Do I have to test for over voting on DRE’s?

How do I design test ballots?

When can create the test ballots?

Do touch screens have “test ballots”?

How do I test consolidated primary ballots?

How do I test straight party preference voting?

How do I test the ballot rotation among precincts is correctly programmed?

What do I do if I discover a defect in the software?


If you are not sure of the answers then I would ask you to consider drawing on my 12 years (1994 to present) of experience as a software tester.  To help County Boards of Election, Municipal Clerks, County Clerks, Registrars of Votes, State Boards of Certification, VotersUnite! and I have created a set of guidelines for the performance of the simplest testing of voting machinery: Logic and Accuracy Testing (black box functional testing).


The complete guidelines are found here: http://www.washburnresearch.org/archive/TestingGuidelines/GuidelinesForCreatingTestBallots.pdf


There is a single page executive summary which reduces the guidelines to 5 Simple Rules for Testing Your Voting Machinery.


Within the guidelines there are several spread sheets used to design the test ballots for the sample ballot included in the guidelines.  This spread sheet can be downloaded from here: http://www.washburnresearch.org/archive/TestingGuidelines/SampleSpreadsheetsForTestGuidelines.zip.


All 3 documents (Executive Summary, Full Guidelines, and the sample spread sheet) can be downloaded as a single ZIP archive from: