The case for North Korea or have you seen those voting machines work?

First, I want you to imagine the worst experience you've ever had with computers.
- your bankcard got swallowed because the keypad on the cash machine had a dodgy button, which repeated the number "5" twice when you pressed it once;
- you rang to pay a bill and the transaction failed because the guys on the other end's computer system was down;
- your internet connection broke down for a month;
- you sat at work for hours waiting to find out if the work you were doing was destroyed when someone messed around with a server;
- your identity was stolen, or the police thought you were the dangerous child killer that jumped bail.

Then, consider this report about British government websites. I could have picked any number of this, but this one was the first one I saw today.

Is it really surprising that this and this happen?

All the election law you'll ever need:
1. Print a piece of paper. List the candidates in alphabetical order. Give voters a pencil and ask them to mark a "X" next to the candidate they want. Sort them by hand in front of scrutineers from all the parties. Count first by hand. Bundle papers into batches of 50. Two people check each batch to see that no votes in the wrong pile. Then run through a machine like banks use for counting banknotes. If there's a discrepancy re-check twice. Automatic recount if a candidate reuests it when the gap is narrow (to win, for a place, or to hold a deposit or secure automatic registration next time).

2. Don't start counting until all polling stations have closed. That means Alaska in the USA, too bad for New Hampshire. Don't allow exit polling if the results are going to be broadcast before all polling stations close. Again that means Alaska in the USA, too bad for whichever party thinks it got the women's vote out on the East coast. Don't allow postal ballots after polling day, unless there's a postal strike. Some post offices are lazy about enforcing wrongly dated franked envelopes, or they smudge. Tough.

3. Don't allow anyone to vote outside their voting area, expect by post. Don't allow anyone to register after the election has been called (say at least a month before the vote). Don't change the voting qualification, or the allocation of electoral college votes, or the location of polling stations (barring natural catastrophe)less than a year before an election.

That's it. Any fraud will be easier to spot, and the public will have better grounds for trusting the mechanics of the election.

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