Last updated on: 4/23/2008 | Author:

Is Logic and Accuracy Testing an Effective Method of Assuring That Electronic Voting Machines Are Operating Properly before an Election?

PRO (yes)


The Maryland State Board of Elections issued a report intended as an informational resource to the residents of the state titled “Voting Systems,” available on the State Board of Elections website (accessed June 14, 2006), which explained:

“Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing is the process by which voting equipment is configured, tested, and certified for accuracy prior to an election. Each component is tested to verify that it is fully functional and free from mechanical problems and that each voting unit contains the appropriate ballot styles for its designated polling place.

L&A testing includes multiple phases. Each voting unit…[is] prepared and configured. The correct ballot styles for each polling place are downloaded to the voting units to be used in that election. Hundreds of test votes are cast on each voting unit to ensure that it is recording votes accurately. For each touchscreen voting unit, more test votes are cast than there are registered voters in the precinct to which the voting unit is assigned. These test votes are counted by each voting unit as well as the central tabulating computer. This ensures complete accuracy throughout the entire voting and vote counting process. All test votes are cleared, and the voting units are locked, sealed and secured ready to be used in the election.”

June 14, 2006


Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County (Texas) Clerk, submitted a paper titled “Prevention of Attack, Not Detection After the Fact: A Note on Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation” in conjunction with her public testimony before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on May 5, 2004, which stated:

“L&A [Logic and Accuracy] testing proofs the ballot and proves that the system is properly adding votes to each candidate in the same quantity as the votes were manually entered. The system result is compared to a known set of data and must match. L&A testing is the most important tool Election Administrators possess and should be taken very seriously. L&A testing increases the confidence that the system properly attributes votes and that the tally will be repeated exactly the same way each time the system is voted.

Logic and Accuracy testing confirms that each candidate appears in the proper precinct, including split precincts, and does not appear in precincts outside that candidate’s jurisdiction. Again, L&A testing is the most important tool in confirming that the ballot is correct.”

May 5, 2004


Cathy Cox, the Georgia Secretary of State, released a document titled “Multilevel Equipment Testing Program Designed to Assure Accuracy and Reliability to Touch Screen Voting System,” available on the Georgia Secretary of State website (accessed June 15, 2006) which stated:

“Georgia law requires that before an election, each of the 22,052 voting units also undergo ‘Logic and Accuracy’ testing which examines system features, insures that votes that are cast are properly recorded, and assures that all candidates and questions for each ballot style in each precinct are properly loaded onto the system. Sample votes are cast on the equipment and these totals are verified. (Logic and Accuracy differs from the previous rounds of examination because the testing is specific to the exact ballot that will be displayed in a specific precinct on election day.) Voter card encoders…are also tested at this time, and at least one memory card from each precinct is uploaded to the county server to ensure that the upload features necessary to compile and count the votes are working properly. At the conclusion of this testing phase, the units are put into election mode and checked to insure no votes have been recorded in any race.”

June 15, 2006

CON (no)


Dan Wallach, PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Rice University stated in his Mar. 18, 2004 testimony before the Ohio Joint Committee on Ballot Security:

“Regardless of whether the software in the Diebold or other voting machines is improved to better resist attacks, bugs will always occur and the risk of tampering cannot be overcome. In particular, we believe that while ‘logic-and-accuracy testing’ can sometimes detect flaws, it will never be comprehensive; important flaws will always escape any amount of testing.”

Mar. 18, 2004


Ellen Theisen, CEO of the Vote-PAD Company, explained in her 2005 report “Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections”:

“Most localities are required to perform Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing on every voting machine before every election… Pre-election testing is conducted at the county level. Its primary purpose is to ensure that the software has been set up properly to accurately count the specific ballots for that election. It is notable that election administrators receive no training in software or hardware testing, yet they are responsible for testing not only the software but also the interaction between software and the mechanical devices on which the software is installed.

Pre-election testing is completely inadequate… Testing on DREs may involve simply pressing each button on the screen to make sure they all work correctly. Testing has failed to detect the many election data errors that have disrupted many…elections.”



Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) explained in their Aug. 1, 2003 paper “CPSR Comments on the California Touch Screen Task Force Report,” available on their website:

“Poor logic and accuracy tests have caused numerous elections problems in the past… DREs present two special problems for logic and accuracy tests. Each ‘ballot’ of a logic and accuracy test for a DRE must be produced by hand, by voting the test ballot on the DRE itself. The problems are: (1) This process is time-consuming on a DRE, so DRE logic and accuracy tests tend to be small. Unfortunately, logic and accuracy tests are often already too small to catch important mistakes… (2) It is difficult to correctly generate a series of test ballots on a DRE without a single error… Consequently, election workers must conduct DRE logic and accuracy tests with extreme deliberation and caution, as even a single error requires that the entire logic and accuracy test be repeated. In practice, this results in logic and accuracy tests that are smaller yet, to the point where the test is testing for little besides a stuck button or a completely nonfunctional DRE… Logic and accuracy tests are simply more difficult to conduct on DREs than on other election systems.”

Aug. 1, 2003


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in a July 19, 2004 letter to Henry McMaster, Attorney General for the State of South Carolina, outlined some examples of electronic voting machines not accurately capturing the intent of the voter:

“Currently the main testing provided on election systems is called ‘logic and accuracy testing,’ but these tests, developed for lever machines, have not been sufficiently updated for use on DREs.”

July 19, 2004