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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines 221

kgeiger writes "Voting machine designs and data formats are a free-for-all. The result is poor validation and hence opportunity for fraud. An IEEE standards group wants all election computer systems to speak the same language. From the article: 'IEEE Standards Project 1622 is working on electronic data interchange for voting systems. The plan is to create a common format, based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe. This is a subset of the popular XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that specifies particular fields and data structures for use in voting.'"
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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines

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  • Yeah... no. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    None of that will ever happen.
    If it did... How can these voting machine companies deliver the vote to the guy who paid them lots of money?

    Shit they don't even try to hide it anymore. lol

    If such a standard ever did get put in place... it would go thru politics and end up with so many holes the standard would be just as useless as what we have now.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:22PM (#41849525)
    I understand how a hand count works. I have no idea how most voting machines work, because their designs are secret. We can talk about standards after we get access to source code and design documents.
    • by hutsell ( 1228828 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:56PM (#41849727) Homepage

      Even at the likely risk of being considered a tin foil luddite, this is the one technology I wish would never be made, even if there is a "100% assuredness" in both accountability and transparency people can feel comfortable about, even when it is something done in autonomous isolation.

      The political system of representative government is about people interacting with one another; voting should reflect that process. Regrettably, since the time and energy to write a compelling argument here is way beyond my present capabilities, I've resigned myself to being on the losing end on a personal viewpoint about the philosophy of politics.

      • And how is ticking a box on a piece of paper any different or more "people interacting" than pushing a button?

        It's not like the person counting the votes even knows who's vote they're counting. The only thing they vote counters bring to the table is human error.
        • They also bring transparency.

          The fact that we CAN audit people after the fact and at least in theory burn anyone for cheating is itself a deterrent.

          Voting machine tampering is harder to detect.

          • by readin ( 838620 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @10:31AM (#41852785)

            They also bring transparency.

            The fact that we CAN audit people after the fact and at least in theory burn anyone for cheating is itself a deterrent.

            Voting machine tampering is harder to detect.

            Which is why so many people recommend that the voting machine spit out a piece of paper that the voter can verify has his vote recorded correctly, and drop that piece of paper into a separate box. In most cases the voting can be tallied efficiently electronically, but in a disputed election the paper ballots can be counted by hand.

        • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:34AM (#41850895)

          It is fine to have machines counting the hand-marked slips of paper, so you can announce a preliminary result on election night -- although many places manage that perfectly well by hand.

          The vote counters bring accountability to the table. You can never be truly sure that a machine is not compromised. If humans are compromised, we catch them and prosecute them, and a conspiracy needs to involve at least hundreds of people. With machines, a few people can compromise an entire election.

          If you allow the machines into the voting booth, anonymous voting is in danger and voter mistakes become impossible to detect. If you allow them to actually record votes, the whole process becomes a joke.

        • A human who is caught cheating a vote count faces 20 years in federal prison. If a machine was faced with similar penalty, will it care? What if we make it a capital offense?
      • by Gerzel ( 240421 )

        Actually the US vote is about people NOT, very specifically NOT, interfacing with one another when the ballot is cast. The secret ballot where a ballot cannot be attached to a specific person after it has been cast is a fundamental part of our electoral system. It is put in there to prevent intimidation and calls to "prove" ones allegiance to a political faction by those who hold power over a vote, such as an employer.

        There are examples today which show why the secret ballot is important. I recall a rece

        • by kenorland ( 2691677 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @02:38AM (#41850591)

          The secret ballot where a ballot cannot be attached to a specific person after it has been cast is a fundamental part of our electoral system

          Only since around the late 19th century, a little after the UK, and even today, many people vote by mail.

          Secret ballots are a good idea, but I think people attach way too much importance to them. Once you get fraud down to within a few percentage points, it makes little difference, and the US is way below that.

          • by TERdON ( 862570 )

            Mail votes can be secret to. The Swedish vote system uses the same voting envelopes as for normal voting, but then you need to send them in packaged in a special outer envelope (and with a few exception, this is done at special stations at that, not in private). These are opened under the same scrutiny and together with the voting boxes, unless there are voters who voted both by mail and at the station to (e.g. for changing their mind). Then the mail vote is discarded.

        • Do you know how I know you're not a computer programmer, systems analyst or software engineer?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The political system of representative government is about people interacting with one another; voting should reflect that process.

        So how would you change the system? Note that the non-electronic version of voting does not include people interacting with one another. I've toyed with the idea of suggesting that representatives be drafted (like juries) rather than elected. That would replace politicians with ordinary people. We'd need a bunch of people to get a representative sampling. My thought was to draft five thousand people a year for three year terms. In the first year, they'd just meet with others. They could discuss the i

        • by readin ( 838620 )
          This sounds like a good idea for the House of Representatives, but we also need to have people who have demonstrated some real intelligence and ability (getting elected doesn't require a strong knowledge of math and science, but it does require a lot of intelligence of various kinds to beat out your competitors), and we even need some people with experience. We should keep the Presidential election the way it is, and either leave the Senate alone or make it appointed by the state government again (which wo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WillAdams ( 45638 )

      Given that some polling locations are likely to not have power on election day: []

      the problems w/ unnecessarily using machines is obvious.

      Use a paper ballot. Use machines to count them. Have standards for how said machines communicate the totals.

      Above all, have a physical paper trail for the inevitable recounts.

      • We should have distributed vote administration.

        We shouldn't have to rely on government issued machines or corruptible humans counting bits of paper. We should strive for a system in which everybody can count and verify the votes of an election, if they so please.

        I'm no distributed computing expert, but my gut feeling is that it is not beyond the realms of possibility to create a secure system that allows everybody to submit their vote from their home (using some kind of token) and have their machine be a pe

        • corruptible humans counting bits of paper

          ... with representatives of the candidates, and frequently anyone else who wants to, watching them do it. At least, that's typically how it's done: a counter counting, campaigns watching for votes they want to challenge, and election judges looking over the challenged votes to decide who the voter intended to vote for.

          beyond the realms of possibility to create a secure system that allows everybody to submit their vote from their home (using some kind of token)

          That's not possible: If you can vote from your home, you can also vote from, say, your workplace, with your boss standing over you helpfully telling you that if you don't vote for Smith (rathe

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Everyone says this. It gets old. The PRI in Mexico rigged elections for 80 years using nothing but paper ballots.
      • The PRI in Mexico rigged elections for 80 years using nothing but paper ballots.

        OK, but as we all know automating/digitizing a process will often make it faster and more efficient. In this case the process of election rigging. :-)

        • If ONLY people could come up with methods for non-repudiation on a computer! What an exotic concept.

          There are difficulties in digitizing the process, and many of them will almost certainly be in a flawed implementation, but its not impossible to make it accountable.

      • But voters could see this (for all good it did them). With a closed computer system recognizing fraud is much more difficult.

    • The problem isn't needing to know how the machine works. Even code audits can't confirm that the hardware is rigged to do something strange. You just can't be 100% sure. From what I understand (being outside the USA) is the real problem is no independent audit trail to confirm that machines have correctly capture voter intent..

      So a better system is to have two machines. One is used to fill in a vote which is both machine and human readable. Once printed, the voter can confirm the vote by looking at it

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:23AM (#41850405)

      No. Just no.

      How do we know that the hardware on the floor is the exact same hardware as that which has been audited by experts?

      How do we know that the software running on that hardware is the exact same software as that which has been audited by experts?

      How do we know that there isn't some obscure hole that the experts failed to detect?

      How do we know that the experts aren't in fact in on the nefarious scheme (or schemes!) to steal the elections?

      How do we know that the data that is being tabulated at the main data centre is in fact the data that was collected at the polling booths?

      Sure, hand counted paper ballots have similar issues. But you can overcome those issues with paper ballots, in a transparent and obvious manner, by letting anybody who wants to watch the whole process from start to finish. You can't do that with electronics; it's just too complex, and there are too many ways to be sneaky about it to be certain that there are no problems.

      I remember scrutineering ballots in the state of Victoria (Australia) some years ago. Anybody could rock up and do it. I picked up on a few mistakes, too. The fact that anybody can do this gives me much more assurance about the results that are published. Of course, you could have the issue of citizen apathy, but if that's an issue, well, the elections are moot anyway.

    • The article sdays "based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe." In fact in most European nations the voting machines got sacked and Dutch hackers trolled the machine manufacturers by runniong chess on the machines. The bare minimum is full disclosure of source code but in reality no one uses these machines anymore for security reasons. Newertheless it seems useful for remote nations with bad political systems because it raises the costs of forgery.
    • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @05:52AM (#41851103) Homepage Journal

      I do know how printers work. I don't understand why they can't have a hard copy paper trail.

      You use the machine to cast your vote, you get a hard copy to review and put in a pile.

      Audit a given number of sites to see that the machine count and paper count match.

      You get the benefits of the automated system that can be reviewed by a human.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:23PM (#41849537)

    Proposal for New IEEE 1622 Standard:

    1.1 DON'T

    1.1.1 Voting should be done on paper.


    1.2.1 See 1.1 and appropriate sub-sections.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:31PM (#41849583) Journal

      You forgot "Format like Word 97"

    • There are ways to improve voting. This is a short step, to ensure compatibility between voting systems and those systems which report the results.

      There are also good ways to implement electronic voting. This does not address those. Only the interchange.

      I appreciate that paper should be involved. I also appreciate that open-source, or at least visible-source, methods can allow e-voting without tampering, and without producing a paper trail that someone who can influence your employment status can read.


    • When I saw the introduction of electronic voting machines (even early ones that produced an actual printed paper tape for verification) I thought, "This is an idea that should have been laughed out of the room the day it was first proposed."

      Then some years after, machines with dongles and flash memory, no paper at all. It was screamingly surreal.

      As a computer consultant in 1980 I was approached by a friend on the Board of Elections to review bids for Shouptronics stations and optical readers. We both agreed

  • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:24PM (#41849549)
    When Texas and Iowa are threatening to arrest election monitors, standards are not the issue.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      When Texas and Iowa are threatening to arrest election monitors, standards are not the issue.

      No, what Texas has said is that international election monitors have to follow the same laws as everyone else and stay 100 feet away from the polling place. They are perfectly free to speak to any voter beyond that 100ft radius.

      Also I believe the treaty the US signed regarding election monitoring note that monitors must obey local laws.

      Did I miss something? This seems to be a non-issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QQBoss ( 2527196 )

      Texas, at least, is not threatening to arrest election monitors. It is threatening to arrest election monitors who don't follow Texas law regulating election monitors. There are (for early voting) and will be (for election day) LOTS of election monitors in probably every voting location in Texas within the 100 foot limit: the only ones who would be arrested will be those not following the law, and certainly not before they receive a warning to follow the law (though anyone from the U.N. should probably co

      • So you regard your province Texas supreme to international law? Nice try. That is how rednecks greet high level OECD diplomats, by presenting their state as a banana republic.
        • by QQBoss ( 2527196 )

          Texas supreme to international law?
          There is an apocryphal (probably) story about a British lord who visited a ranch out in Texas. Looking for the owner of the ranch, he walked up to one of the ranch hands and asked,"My dear chap, could you tell me where I could find your master?" The response was,"That man ain't been born yet."

          What does that have to do with this situation? Nothing, I just love that story.

          The agreement with the OSCE (what is the OECD? The Old English Commonwealth Dictionary?) is not a la

      • by Jon_S ( 15368 )

        If the U.N. wants to monitor Texas elections

        The UN has no interest in monitoring the US elections. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has indicated their intention to but the OSCE is not affiliated with the UN.

        I think the UN has been brought into that because they are seen as the boogeyman among certain groups of people.

        Not saying they shouldn't stay 100 feet from the poling places like everyone else, but just trying to clear up that confusion.

    • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slacka ( 713188 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:41AM (#41850229)

      "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."
      -Josef Stalin
      With the election this close, I really hope it's the voters, not fraud, that decides the next president..

  • by Mr Bubble ( 14652 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:38PM (#41849617)

    Awesome, now we have a standard format to send the fraudulent vote tallies to the server.

    • Awesome, now we have a standard format to send the fraudulent vote tallies to the server.

      Spot on. Not speaking the common language is hardly the worst problem with electronic voting machines in the USA.

  • Just say no ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:40PM (#41849623)

    Just say no to all electronic voting. I don't care if it's open source or not, how can you ever be sure about the software loaded on a voting machine unless you do it personally. And then how can anyone else who uses the machine trust you. I don't have a problem with machine counting of paper ballots because you always have a hand count to fall back on if necessary but I'll never trust pure electronic voting.

    • by kagaku ( 774787 )

      How do you trust the officials counting the paper ballots? How can you know if your vote is REALLY being counted unless you count it yourself? And then how can anyone else be sure their vote was counted?

      Your logic doesn't just apply to machine voting, it applies to voting in general. We don't need to stick to old fashion methods, we need to stick to open standards and 3rd party independent oversight. There is no reason why we can't have a third party international oversight group with the full rights to wal

      • You can't trust it. But that's ok for the most part as long as most people trust it. Elections work when they're trusted, not because they're 100% accurate. You can have a very accurate election but when the populace distrusts it then civil order starts to break down. Democracy really only works because of the shared delusion that it works.

        For instance, the butterfly ballots in Florida really only have some minor problems, the whole mess is because statistically it was a tie. Because the counts could

        • Somebody who understands technology, will not ever trust computer voting. period.

          • You're exactly right.

            Even if fraud is not perpetrated using these machines, they are going to fuck up at some statistically significant rate. Think papers jamming, touch screen calibration errors, etc.

            And of course there's the eight people in Clay County, Kentucky, who are serving hard time for tricking people with electronic voting machines. One was even a judge!


            The county had new voting machines that year that required people

          • Funny you use this "period" as if it's an absolute belief of all people who understand technology. Yet we who understand technology know that a computer does not succumb to bias, misrepresentation, or threats. Corruption technically yes but not in the same sense :-).

            You wouldn't trust the current attempts at electronic voting, but to assume a machine is not capable of providing better assurances than a piece of paper that gets ticked, put in a box, and then magically within the ether gets converted to a sta

            • by Burz ( 138833 )

              Malware and backdoors are the equivalent of "bias, misrepresentation, or threats" to computers.

              Computers are trusted only insofar as we can tell who asked them to do exactly what because they operate on a multitude of layers of indirection -- Anyone who thinks that what they see on screen is proof of what is recorded inside is beyond naive. As soon a secret anonymous ballot enters the picture, you've got a fundamental incompatibility with the digital world much as maximalist copyright policies are. Casting

              • Yes if you make a system that complicated then sure. But who needs VLSI when you can get off the shelf proven processors and combine it with simple auditable software.

                If you have the capabilities to audit it, which mind you is quite reasonable, then why is there any reason to doubt what's on the screen? Why not create a paper backup trail in case anyone wants to count the ballots afterwards, do we suddenly no longer trust what's on paper either? Also why is it ludicrous to expect election commission to be a

            • Paper voting is simple enough that any person with a basic education can understand the basic methods of fraud and keep their eye out for them.

              Because people are involved in every stage of the process, rather than just vote collection and acting on the tally, there are more opportunities to spot any fraud going on.

              Electronic voting is understood by a much smaller fraction of the population, and those people are unlikely to be permitted to be involved in the process to the same level that a ballot counter is

              • You can talk about open standards all you like - but they are inherently much more closed than a paper ballot by their very nature, because only a small percentage of the population are equipped to audit them.

                This is slashdot. We here represent the more technically minded, and most importantly open minded subset of the population who would be interested in the inner workings of a system. I guarantee you that the overwhelmingly vast majority of the population couldn't care less about how the voting system works. Hell just looking at your country from the sidelines it's clear that nearly half of your population couldn't even be arsed casting their ballot.

                Anyway why not just run a secondary paper trail? Then you ha

      • You don't have to trust, you just have to make corruption too expensive. Count in small batches, on site, at close of voting, with volunteer observers from every person on the ballot. It works, it scales, and it limits the effectiveness of co-opting a few individuals, unlike *anything* to do with electronic voting.
      • If you can't trust them counting paper ballots how could you ever trust them to run an electronic voting machine? Heck, the people running the machines are barely competent and have to call in a tech if something goes sideways. If you really want an electronic interface I'd be okay with one that you record your votes on then it prints out your ballot so you can verify it's correct before you turn it in for counting. But the voting machine itself shouldn't keep an internal record of the vote.

        Fortunately i

    • Agreed. I voted "protest evote" in 2008, and I plan on voting it again. These things can be hacked. There are trials where people testify they were asked to hack them for a 51% vote. There was an event I suspect it was used in the primaries because the voting results were "lost" for hours in some old lady's house and came back 51% win. I just suspect as a hunch, but I'm just baseless guessing. To me, the electronic voting is just a way of trying to get voting out of the system. I show up to vote ever
      • Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.
        • Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.

          We're such amateurs. Hated dictators usually get 100% of the vote.

          • by azalin ( 67640 )

            Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.

            We're such amateurs. Hated dictators usually get 100% of the vote.

            You meant "loved leader" didn't you? Because otherwise these gentleman in dark trench-coats would like to have a little conversation with you.

    • It's actually quite comical that in this debate we put trust in an easily corruptible person over a computer.

      I'm against what currently passes for electronic voting, but in no way do I think that relying on humans is more certain than doing it properly on a machine. Machines don't have bias and don't favour a political party so providing we can somehow assure the open programming of the machine then there's no reason not to progress with electronic voting.

      • by azalin ( 67640 )
        We don't trust "a person", we trust several representatives from different parties/candidates/groups to watch over each other. And because we don't trust them completely we keep the original ballots after counting, so we can recount them. For paper ballots it is rather complicated to mess with them on a grand scale without raising suspicion.
        With computers/voting machines it takes only one person to change the data and no one will be able to prove foul play.
        • With computers/voting machines it takes only one person to change the data and no one will be able to prove foul play.

          You say that as if it's an absolute. As if you can't have the same kind of oversights / representation from multiple interested parties for a digital system.

          I agree with you that e-voting in it's current form is not trustworthy, but that doesn't need to be the case. Here on slashdot there have been many answers to the accountability problems, and the auditing problems the current e-voting system has.

  • The problem is that secure computerized voting is like cryptography (and not just because the two are related)... Straightforward in theory, but every manufacturer thinks they've got to make their own implementation of the encryption/signing/validation algorithms, and every ignorant administrator is swayed by the marketing to think that "proprietary" means "secure".

    Even if we accept the idealistic worldview that the manufacturers want a fair election, there's no commercial sense in making a machine that's 1

    • They can cheat on paper votes, it's been done for centuries.
      Elections aren't about making money, if the government wants the machines, it will get the machines.
      • by Burz ( 138833 )

        No, the mechanics of voting in a democracy cannot be re-made as a service provided by for-profit corporations.

        Elections aren't about making money...

        Talk about naive. What do you think corporate PACs and lobbyists are for? They have come to treat politicians as investments that offer a very high ROI.

  • Use Banking ATM's as they verify but here you use your tax dollar, deciding where it is to be used. This way the politician who cheat with our taxes won't be able to and the job of politician (fitting the "no taxation without representation") will be required to do the job of doing with our taxes as we instruct. For us that means we have to apply constraints of only taxes used towards the generation of team work benefits we all share in. For the government, they have to become transparent otherwise they don

    • ATM manufacturers created the computerized voting market. Check out from their early days (Bush-II era) or read their book.

      Secret voting is not even remotely like banking or paying taxes because the recipient of the information isn't allowed to know who generated which piece of data.

      Paper or similar analog medium is the only correct way to do secret ballot voting. The result is subject to far more robust forensic analysis (should a crime be committed), recounts are straightforward and no

  • ITs about damn time we started talking standards. We should also talk vote verification too...

    Ive always said the best voting solution, and the only way to guarantee accurate results with electronic ballots is to use a blind serialized receipt system. For example:

    When you insert the scantron form into the reader, push the buttons on the fully electronic machine, etc. it should show the votes registered and give you the chance to protest a machine error. (circled the box for Obama but Romney showed o

  • first off, i am against electronic voting....

    so, there was a time when the freemasons were literally the architects of america. their stamp was on everything and their influence can still be seen in many places. so now the IEEE is pretty much everywhere, finalizing most of our technology and communication standards. if you are using a device that is networked in anyway, you are under the IEEE's influence. im not saying they are actively involved in a conspiracy to control an election, but could they?
    • Yes, electronics make the world go round, but the IEEE is about the most ineffective organization on the planet. If they are plotting a conspiracy, I assure you, you are perfectly safe.
  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:14AM (#41850131)

    When I see this news, all I can think is "Great, now there's an easier way to transmit and receive fraudulent vote tallies." What the USA really needs is a short & sweet federal law that says something like:
    "It shall be illegal to certify any public election tallied by methods or mechanisms not available in their entirety for public inspection."

    No more of this secret-sauce craziness. If you can't show how you count, you're surely up to no good -- and it's high time for that reality to be codified in law.

  • Why not 100% vote by mail (in effect, everyone an absentee voter)?

    It works here, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument against it.

    • It all depends on what happens to the ballots after you mail them. Touchscreen voting machines are a clear assault on democracy, but it's not true that anything else would be better. There are plenty of ways to screw up any given voting system. Touchscreen machines just happen to be impossible to do right.

    • Why not 100% vote by mail (in effect, everyone an absentee voter)?

      It works here, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument against it.

      And where you are, it's 100% impossible for anyone else to watch while you fill out the ballot, and 100% impossible for anyone else to fill it out for you. And your mail is 100% delivered, 100% on time. I bet the trains run on time there, too.

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:44AM (#41850241)

    In other news, the Society of Aeronautical Engineers has recently announced a standardized zeppelin docking mechanism, so all hydrogen-filled dirigibles will be able to use the same berthing towers.

  • Here's the funny thing: Industry develops a standard and the IEEE gets together to approve it, but once they do they own the copyright on the standard and you can only get a copy from them, costing several hundred bucks. Some standards are split up, so instead of one fat book you are buying many small thin ones. Not a problem for big business, but a sizable expense for smaller ones and hardly an 'open' standard we want for voting machines.

    Examples: []
  • Just do friggin vote by mail and be done with it.

    No lines, no problems with bad weather thanks to the postal oath of rain and snow, and people can vote in the privacy of their own homes.

    And since screwing with the mail is a federal offense, you get the USPIS protecting the process.

    • A horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE idea!

      Even aside of the idea that people get to vote at gunpoint, how about the various retirement homes, filled with people who are still technically allowed to vote but, let's put it nicely, rather unfit to. If you can't see how various parties could have an interest to "make" people vote in one way or another (from political parties who simply and bluntly come to the homes and make sure that the geezers vote the way they "should" to the organization running the home doing it

  • Let's even assume they actually made those frickin' useless boxes secure, which they didn't, with this standard.

    The main problem is credibility for the common idiot. With pen and paper, all you need to verify the result is being able to see and to count. It is plausible to the average idiot that anyone can do that, any person is able to be a safeguard against fraud. With voting machines, that needs a "computer guy".

    That limits the amount of people who can actually safeguard against fraud considerably. And t

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors