Last updated on: 10/2/2008 | Author:

Slot Machines vs. Electronic Voting Machines

Slot Machines
Voting Machines


The chart below compares Las Vegas slot machines to electronic voting machines using six different criteria (Open Access to Software and Source Code, Ability to Test Machines in Real Time, Employee Background Check, Testing Standards, Mandatory Government Oversight, and Filing Grievances).

Las Vegas slot machines are uniformly regulated by the state-run Nevada Gaming Control Board, while electronic voting machines are regulated by federal and local mandate, plus whatever self-controls the respective manufacturers impose. Because supporters and detractors of electronic voting machines have divergent opinions, we have presented both pro and con responses to how electronic voting machines meet the comparison criteria.

[Note: Steve F. Freeman, PhD, Professor of Organization and Entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania, and Joel Bleifuss, Editor of In These Times online magazine, presented a comparison of slot machines v. electronic voting machines in their 2006 book Was The 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?]

1. Open Access to Software and Source Code


“Applications for approval to modify a gaming device or an inter-casino linked system shall include ‘a copy of all source code for programs that cannot be reasonably demonstrated to have any use other than in a gaming device, submitted on electronically readable, unalterable media.’”

Nevada Gaming Control Board
Section 14.110, para. 3 of Regulation 14
Mar. 2005

“With respect to all voting systems using electronic means, that the vendor provide access to all of any information [including software] required to be placed in escrow by a vendor pursuant to G.S. 163-165.9A for review and examination by the State Board of Elections; the Office of Information Technology Services; the State chairs of each political party recognized under G.S. 163-96; the purchasing county; and designees as provided in subdivision (9) of subsection (d) of this section.”

Session Law 2005-323, Senate Bill 223
General Assembly of North Carolina

“[T]here has been no public access to any source codehttps://dev-vot/source-biographies/us-government-accountability-office-gao/ that has passed through the FEC/NASED [Federal Election Commission/ National Association of State Election Directors] mandated review process, and indeed, even the reports of the source code auditors under this review process are confidential.”

Doug Jones, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Iowa, in The Case of the Diebold FTP Website
July 22, 2003

2. Ability to Test Machines in Real Time


“On a random basis we will show up at a location one day and say ‘we’re going to do your location today and we want access to the machines right now.”

Mark Robinson
former lab manager for the Nevada Gaming Board’s Electronic Services Division, in an interview with author Steve Bourie, Mar. 18, 1997

“Results of the reconciliation analysis [which test voting machines in real time during an election] indicate that the DRE equipment tested on March 2, 2004 recorded the votes as cast with 100% accuracy. In two counties – Solano and San Joaquin – the results matched exactly for all contests and no further analysis was required to reconcile the results.”

R&G Associates, LLC
in Parallel Monitoring Program Summary Report for the State of California , for the California Office of the Secretary of State
Apr. 19, 2004

“[T]he [parallel] test has to run thirteen hours. It means…you can only run seventy five to a couple of hundred votes through it in that thirteen hours even though you could potentially run hundreds of thousands. The machines have to be chosen randomly from the real population of voting machines. The votes cast on them cannot be designed for catching bugs because then you would cast every different kind of vote possible. Instead you have to statistically mimic the actual votes that would be cast in that precinct. And then you have to videotape the whole thing.”

David R. Jefferson, PhD
in Voting in 2004: A Report to the Nation on America’s Election Process
Dec. 7, 2004

3. Employee Background Check


“All developers are advised that this personal history record is an official document and misrepresentation or failure to reveal information requested may be deemed to be sufficient cause for the manufacturer/distributor to be called forward for a finding of suitability by the Nevada Gaming Commission. A Personal History Record must be completed by each Executive, Director and/or Key Employee of the developing company.”

Nevada Gaming Control Board
Personal History Record Form for unlicensed developers of associated equipment
Oct. 2004

“[A] series of steps [were] taken to address the security concerns raised by the studies: [including] background checks on elections equipment personnel.”

Virginia Division of Legislative Services Joint Subcommittee to Study Virginia’s Election Process and Voting Technologies
Meeting summary
July 19, 2005

“A background check? No I wouldn’t say we conduct a thorough background check.”

Harry A. VanSickle
Pennsylvania Elections Commissioner
in a television interview
Feb. 17, 2005

4. Testing Standards


“It is the intent of the Board to continually review and revise these [standards] when and where necessary and provide public updates as warranted.”

Nevada Gaming Control Board
Industry Letter
Apr. 24, 2006

“The standards we utilize include the ‘1990 Performance and Test Standards for Punchcard, Marksense and Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems’,’2002 Voting Systems Standards’ and the ‘2005 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines [VVSG], Volumes I and II’. The VVSG is in a grandfathering period and will become applicable in 2007.”

Wyle Laboratories, Inc.
in a statement for the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee of the California Legislature (Read full-text of statement)
Mar. 29, 2005

“Computer security experts and others have criticized the 2002 voting system standards for not containing requirements sufficient to ensure secure and reliable voting systems. Common concerns with the standards involve vague and incomplete security provisions, inadequate provisions for some commercial products and networks, and inadequate documentation requirements.”

Government Accountability Office
in Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems are Underway, But Key Activities Need to be Completed, pp31-32
Sep. 2005

5. Mandatory Government Oversight


“The Nevada Gaming Commission and the State Gaming Control Board comprise the two tiered system charged with regulating the Nevada gaming industry. … The Commission and Board administer the State laws and regulations governing gaming for the protection of the public and in the public interest in accordance with the policy of the State.”

Nevada Gaming Control Board
Gaming Regulations
(last accessed May 2, 2006)

“Designated election officials may, in fact, obtain copies of test results for their systems, but only with the permission of the vendor.”

Government Accountability Office
Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems are Underway, But Key Activities Need to be Completed, p36
Sep. 2005

“The FEC [Federal Election Commission] left themselves a loophole. They never codified the FEC standards into regulations, so that the force of law cannot be applied to force voting machine makers to comply. The FEC standards are ‘voluntary guidelines.’”

Bev Harris
Executive Director, Black Box Voting, Inc.
Nov. 24, 2005

6. Filing Grievances


“What do I do when a slot machine I am playing malfunctions? The first thing you do is contact a casino employee. If there is a question of whether or not you have won a jackpot and you dispute the casino’s response you may telephone the Gaming Control Board’s Enforcement Division. An agent will arbitrate the dispute.”

Nevada Gaming Control Board
Frequently Asked Question’s about slot machine malfunction Web page
(last accessed May 2, 2006)

“Establishment of State-Based Administrative Complaint Procedures to Remedy Grievances.
(B) Under the procedures, any person who believes that there is a violation of any provision of title III (including a violation which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur) may file a complaint.
(C) Any complaint filed under the procedures shall be in writing and notarized, and signed and sworn by the person filing the complaint.
(D) The State may consolidate complaints filed under subparagraph (B).
(E) At the request of the complainant, there shall be a hearing on the record.
(F) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is a violation of any provision of title III, the State shall provide the appropriate remedy.
(G) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is no violation, the State shall dismiss the complaint and publish the results of the procedures.”

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

“HAVA complaint requirements yield some foreseeable problems. HAVA requires states to resolve complaints within 90 days. However, certifying an election before complaints are resolved, as many states will do, will not protect the rights of violated voters, particularly in the event of a pattern or practice violation that could sway election results. In addition, HAVA does not separate the complaint resolution function from the administration of elections; nor does it specify who is responsible for processing complaints. This separation was central to the Commission’s recommendations to ensure that the entity allegedly committing or condoning an unlawful practice is not also responsible for investigation and resolution.”

US Commission on Civil Rights
Is America Ready to Vote?: Election Readiness Briefing Paper, pp31-32
Apr. 2004