Glossary

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A
1-of-M: N-of-M voting where N = 1.
absentee ballot: (1) Ballot provided to an absent voter. (2) Ballot resulting from absentee voting.
absentee voting: Voting that can occur unsupervised at a location chosen by the voter.
accessible voting station: Voting station equipped for individuals with disabilities referred to in 42 USC 15481 (a)(3)(B).
Acc-VS: Accessible voting station.
activation device: Programmed device that creates credentials necessary to initiate a voting session using a specific ballot configuration. Discussion: This covers a range of devices such as electronic pollbooks and card activators that encode a token with credential information necessary to determine the appropriate ballot configuration for the voter (e.g., affiliation or precinct). The credentials on the token are used to call up and display the correct ballot on a DRE or EBP.
affiliation: Association with a political party. Discussion: Affiliation with a political party does not imply endorsement by that political party. See also, endorsement.
approval voting: Voting variation in which the voter can select as many candidates as desired in a contest, where the candidate with the most votes wins. If there are N seats open in a contest, then the top N candidates receiving the most votes win. With approval voting, there are no overvotes, as each vote for a candidate counts towards that candidate's tally.
audit device: Voting device dedicated exclusively to processes of verification and/or independent assessment of the performance of the voting system.
audit: Verification of statistical or exact agreement of records from different processes or subsystems of a voting system.
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B
ballot configuration: Set of contests in which voters of a particular group (e.g., political party and/or election district) are entitled to vote.
ballot image: Electronically produced record of all votes cast by a single voter. Discussion: A ballot image might be an uninterpreted bitmap image, a transient logical representation of the votes, or an archival record (a cast vote record).
ballot question: Contest in which the choices are Yes and No.
ballot rotation: Process of varying the order of the contest choices within a given contest.
ballot style: Concrete presentation of a particular ballot configuration. Discussion: A given ballot configuration may be realized by multiple ballot styles, which may differ in the language used, the ordering of contests and contest choices, etc.
ballot: (1) Collection of votes produced by one voter in one voting session (as in "ballot summary" or "rejected ballot record"). (2) Collection of all votes cast by one voter in one voting session (as in "cast ballot"). (3) Cast vote record (as in "evidence that the ballot was available for review by the voter"). (4) Ballot configuration (as in "ballot definition"). (5) Ballot style (as in "ballot design"). (6) Presentation of every contest included in a particular ballot style, possibly with votes (as in "For privacy, the ballot must be visible only to the voter"). (7) Collection of one or more pieces of paper that presents every contest included in a particular ballot style and, when cast, serves as a cast vote record. (8) VEBD function of interacting with a voter to potentially create a ballot (as in "ballot activation") or mark an existing ballot.
beat: See precinct.
blank ballot: The official presentation of all of the contests to be decided in a particular election.
NOTE 1- From Voluntary Voting System Guidelines Version 1.0
NOTE 2- The ballot presentation can be a collection of one or more pieces of paper or an electronic representation, such as a PDF document or JPEG image.
NOTE 3- A blank ballot, that is, containing no votes, could be cast (possibly as a form of protest) and read and counted, however every contest on the ballot would be undervoted.
box: See precinct.
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C
candidate: Person contending in a contest for office. Discussion: A candidate may be explicitly presented as one of the contest choices or may be a write-in candidate.
cast ballot: Ballot in which the voter has taken final action in the selection of contest choices and irrevocably confirmed his or her intent to vote as selected. See also read ballot and counted ballot.
cast vote record: Archival record of all votes produced by a single voter. Discussion: Cast vote records may be in electronic, paper, or other form. Electronic cast vote records are also called ballot images.
CCOS: Central-count optical scanner.
central tabulator: Tabulator that counts votes from multiple precincts at a central location. Discussion: Voted ballots are typically placed into secure storage at the polling place and then transported or transmitted to a central tabulator. A tabulator that may be configured for use either in the precinct or in the central location may satisfy the requirements for both Precinct tabulator and Central tabulator.
central-count optical scanner: Optical scanner used as a central tabulator. Discussion: Most machines in this class are special purpose machines that use reflected light to identify marks at specific locations on the ballot. They are designed to read stacks of ballots at a time.
challenged ballot: Ballot cast by a voter whose eligibility to vote is disputed by someone who is not an election official. See also provisional ballot.
choice: Contest choice.
closed primary: Primary election in which the voter receives a ballot containing only those party-specific contests pertaining to the political party with which the voter is affiliated, along with non-party-specific contests presented at the same election. Discussion: Usually, unaffiliated voters are permitted to vote only on non-party-specific contests.
combined precinct: Two or more precincts assigned the same polling place.
configuration data: Non-executable input to software, firmware, or hardwired logic, not including vote data.
contest choice: That with which a vote in a given ballot position is associated (e.g., a candidate, or the value Yes or the value No).
contest: (1) A single decision being put before the voters (e.g., the selection of candidates to fill a particular public office or the approval or disapproval of a constitutional amendment). Discussion: This term subsumes other terms such as "race," "question," and "issue" that are sometimes used to refer to specific kinds of contests. (2) Subdivision of a ballot pertaining to a single decision being put before the voters.
COTS: Software, firmware, device or component that is used in the United States by many different people or organizations for many different applications and that is incorporated into the voting system with no manufacturer-or application-specific modification. Discussion: (1) The expansion of COTS as Commercial Off-The-Shelf is no longer helpful, since much of what satisfies the requirements is noncommercial software that is not available in stores. The acronym COTS is used here only because it is familiar to the audience. (2) By requiring "many different applications," this definition deliberately prevents any application logic from receiving a COTS designation.
counted ballot: Read ballot whose votes are included in the vote totals. See cast ballot, read ballot.
NOTE 1- A provisional ballot or challenged ballot that is NOT accepted may be read, but it is not counted.
cross-party endorsement: Endorsement of a given contest choice by two or more political parties.
cumulative voting: Voting variation in which the voter is entitled to allocate a fixed number of votes (N) over a list of M contest choices or write-ins. Discussion: Unlike N-of-M voting, cumulative voting allows the voter to allocate more than one vote to a given contest choice. The voter is not obliged to allocate all N votes.
CVR: Cast vote record.
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D
device: Physical contrivance and any supporting supplies, materials, and logic that together form a functional unit that performs assigned tasks as an integrated whole.
direct record electronic: Combination VEBD and tabulator that gathers votes via an electronic voter interface, records voting data and ballot images in memory components, and produces a tabulation of the voting data. Discussion: A typical DRE presents contest choices to the voter on an electronic monitor, and after the voter finishes the ballot the voter's votes are stored locally on the computer.
DRE: Direct record electronic.
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E
EBM: Electronically-assisted ballot marker.
EBM-marked paper ballot: Ballot marked by an EBM.
EBP: Electronic ballot printer.
election district: Administrative division in which voters are entitled to vote in contests that are specific to that division, such as those for state senators and delegates.
election management system: Tabulator used to prepare ballots and programs for use in casting and counting votes and to consolidate, report, and display election results. Discussion: This device receives results data from the vote-capture devices, accumulates the results, and reports the accumulated results. Typically, the election management system will interact with several different classes of voting devices. The EMS receives election results from electronic media devices in one or more of four connections: modem, local bus, direct serial, and/or local area Ethernet.
election official: Central election official, election judge, or poll worker.
election verification: Confirmation that all recorded votes were counted correctly. See also voter verification.
electronic ballot printer: EBM that prints an entire ballot, including ballot style-dependent content.
EMS: Election management system.
endorsement: Approval by a political party (e.g., as the candidate that the party elects to field in a particular contest and/or as the candidate that should receive straight party votes). A contest choice may be endorsed by more than one party. See also, affiliation.
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G
generic ballot style: A ballot configuration that includes the ordering information regarding how the contests appear but does not include U.S. state-required formatting details such as specific fonts or sizes or other layout.
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in-person: Voting that occurs at a polling place under the supervision of poll workers. Discussion: Also known as poll-site voting.
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jurisdiction: Generic term used to signify geographic areas that administer elections. The types of jurisdictions typically include counties, parishes (usage in Louisiana, equivalent to a county in other states), independent cities, towns, or an entire state (e.g., Alaska).
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locality: Generic term as used in election contexts to signify a jurisdiction whose size is smaller and contained within a state, such as a county, town, or other form of munincipality.
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manufacturer: Entity with ownership and control over a voting system submitted for testing.
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N
N-of-M: Voting variation in which the voter is entitled to allocate a fixed number of votes (N) over a list of M contest choices or write-ins, with the constraint that at most 1 vote may be allocated to a given contest choice. See also cumulative voting. Discussion: The voter is not obliged to allocate all N votes.
non-party-specific contest: Contest such that eligibility to vote in that contest is independent of political party affiliation or lack thereof.
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O
open primary: Primary election in which the voter may choose a political party at the time of voting and vote in party-specific contests associated with that party, along with non-party-specific contests presented at the same election. Discussion: Also known as pick-your-party primary. Some states require voters to publicly declare their choice of party at the polling place, after which the poll worker provides or activates the appropriate ballot. Other states allow the voters to make their choice of party within the privacy of the voting booth. Voters also are permitted to vote on non-party-specific contests that are presented at the same election.
optical scanner: Tabulator that counts votes recorded by means of marks made on the surface of a paper ballot.
overseas voter: A U.S. citizen who is living temporarily or permanently outside of the United States and is eligible to vote in his or her place of residence in the United States.
overvote: Occurs when a voter selects more than one candidate in a 1-of-M contest or more than N candidates in an N-of-M contest. The vote for that contest is considered an overvote and not counted towards any candidate in that contest (unless approval voting applies for that contest).
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P
parish: A parish is an administrative division used in the state of Louisiana, which is divided into 64 parishes in the same way that 48 of the other states of the United States are divided into counties (Alaska is the other exception, which is divided into boroughs and census areas instead).
party-specific contest: Contest such that eligibility to vote in that contest is restricted based on political party affiliation or lack thereof. Discussion: The affiliation might be the registered affiliation of the voter or it might be an affiliation declared at the time of voting. See closed primary, open primary.
PCOS: Precinct-count optical scanner.
precinct tabulator: Tabulator that counts votes at the polling place. Discussion: These devices typically tabulate ballots as they are cast and print the results after the close of polls. For DREs and some paper-based systems, these devices provide electronic storage of the vote count and may transmit results to a central location over public telecommunication networks. A tabulator that may be configured for use either in the precinct or in the central location may satisfy the requirements for both Precinct tabulator and Central tabulator.
plurality voting: Voting variation in which the voter can select at most one candidate in a contest, where the candidate with the most votes wins. If a voter selects more than one candidate in a contest, then the vote is considered an overvote and not counted towards any of the candidates on that contest. If there are N seats open in a contest, then the voter may select up to, but not more than, N candidates, where the top N candidates receiving the most votes win; if a voter selects more than N candidates, then the vote is considered an overvote and not counted towards any of the candidates on that contest.
precinct: Also called beat or box in some states. Election administration division corresponding to a contiguous geographic area that is the basis for determining which contests and issues the voters legally residing in that area are eligible to vote on. A precinct or precinct split is the smallest geographical area for purposes of holding national, state, or county-wide elections. See also combined precinct.
precinct-count optical scanner: Optical scanner used as a precinct tabulator. Discussion: A PCOS is a special purpose scanner designed to enable the voter to feed his or her own paper ballot—one ballot at a time.
precinct split: Also called split. A subdivision of a precinct which arises when a precinct is split by two or more administrative divisions, such as election districts, that may require different ballot configurations for each precinct split. See split precinct.
primary election: Election held to determine which candidate(s) will represent a political party for particular offices in the general election and/or to narrow the field of candidates in non-party-specific contests prior to the general election. Discussion: From the functional viewpoint of the voting system, the defining features of a primary election are the presence of party-specific contests and a requirement to report separate totals for the different political parties.
provisional ballot: Ballot cast by a voter whose eligibility to vote is disputed by an election official. See also challenged ballot.
NOTE 1- The distinction between a read vs. a counted ballot concerns rejected provisional ballots and challenged ballots that are not to be counted (because of administrative concerns). If a provisional ballot is not counted because of such administrative concerns, it is accounted for as a read ballot but its content is not included in the tallies.
provisional-challenged ballot: Challenged ballot or provisional ballot.
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ranked order: Voting variation in which voters express their intent by ordering contest choices from strongest to weakest preference. Discussion: Implementations of ranked order voting differ in whether voters are required to rank every choice and in the algorithm used to determine a winner or winners.
read ballot: Cast ballot that has been interpreted by a tabulator to determine what votes it contains. See also cast ballot, counted ballot.
NOTE 1- A read ballot may or may not be counted. For example, an optical scan cast ballot that has been scanned successfully is a read ballot. A provisional ballot or challenged ballot that is NOT accepted may be read, but it is not counted.
record: (n) Preserved evidence of activities performed or results achieved (e.g., forms, reports, test results). (v) To create a record.
relevant contest: Contest appearing in a ballot style or ballot associated with a given reporting context. Discussion: If a contest is included in a ballot style associated with a given reporting context, that contest is relevant even if no ballots of that style were counted.
report: Self-contained, time stamped, archival record, such as a printout or analogous electronic file that is produced at a specific time and subsequently protected from modification.
reporting context: Scope within which reported totals or counts are calculated (e.g., precinct or election district). Discussion: Reporting contexts may overlap in complex ways; for example, in the case of split precincts, there is not a simple containment relationship between election districts and precincts.
reporting unit: Scope within which reported totals or counts are reported (e.g., a jurisdiction, precinct, or election district).
review-required ballot: Ballot that is flagged or separated for some form of manual processing.
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split: See precinct split.
split precinct: Precinct serving voters from two or more administrative divisions, such as election districts, that may require different ballot configurations. Discussion: A split precinct can arise when an election district’s boundaries are redrawn such that they cross a precinct’s boundaries and include only a part of the precinct. The part of the precinct is typically called a precinct split or split.
spoil: (A ballot) To mark or otherwise alter a ballot so as to indicate, in a manner supported by the voting system, that the ballot is not to be cast.
straight party override: Explicit vote that conflicts with the vote(s) implied by a straight party vote.
straight party voting: Voting variation in which a vote in a designated, special contest (in which the choices are political parties) implies votes in accordance with the endorsements of the elected party in all other contents on the ballot in which straight party voting is allowed.
street segment data: The portion of a street between two consecutive cross streets that can be assigned to a voting precinct.
system extent: Administrative unit that is the entire scope within which the voting system is used (e.g., a county). Discussion: The system extent corresponds to the top-level reporting context for which the system generates reports.
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tabulator: Device that counts votes. Discussion: Any distinction between processing individual votes and processing vote totals that resulted from a previous step is not relevant; both of these constitute "counting votes."
town: Term used in New England, New York and Wisconsin to refer to the equivalent of the civil township in these states.
township, civil township: A widely used unit of local government in the United States, subordinate to a county, with some form of local government for which it generally conducts elections.
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UOCAVA voter: Uniform and Overseas Citizens Assistance in Voting Act (UOCAVA) voter: An overseas voter or an active duty member of the U.S. military, either within and outside of the United States, including any accompanying spouse and family members who are eligible to vote in their place of residence in the United States. See also: overseas voter.
undervote: Occurs when the voter does not select a candidate in a 1-of-M contest or selects fewer than N candidates in a N-of-M contest.
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vote: (n) Indication of support for a particular contest choice in a manner supported by the voting system.
vote-capture device: Device that is used directly by a voter to vote a ballot.
voted ballot: Ballot that has been cast or spoiled.
voting credentials: Items sufficient to enable a DRE or EBP to activate a ballot of the ballot configuration that is appropriate for a given voter.
voting device: Device that is part of the voting system. Discussion: Components and materials that are vital to the function of the voting device within the voting system, such as smart cards and ballot printers, are considered parts of the device for the purpose of conformity assessment.
voting station: Vote-capture device, together with its privacy enclosure if it is supposed to have one.
voting system: Equipment (including hardware, firmware, and software), materials, and documentation used to define elections and ballot styles, configure voting equipment, identify and validate voting equipment configurations, perform logic and accuracy tests, activate ballots, capture votes, count votes, reconcile ballots needing special treatment, generate reports, transmit election data, archive election data, and audit elections. See also, voting process.
voting variation: Voting style, option, or feature such as in-person voting, absentee voting, provisional / challenged ballots, review-required ballots, closed primaries, open primaries, write-ins, ballot rotation, straight party voting, cross-party endorsement, split precincts, N-of-M voting, cumulative voting, or ranked order voting.
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write-in: Vote for a candidate who is explicitly named by the voter in lieu of choosing a candidate who is already listed on the ballot. Discussion: This does not preclude writing in the name of a candidate who is already listed on the ballot.
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