This is why the machines need to have two counters. When I worked as a precinct chief in Fairfax county, VA, we had a number of safety protocols designed to insure the integrity of the vote. I’ll detail them here:
(1) Each vote machine was delivered in a sealed configuration with a metal band securing it and stamped with a unique number. We had this number in advance and knew exactly what to expect. Moreover, each individual voting machine had a serial number that we were privy too. That made it easy to determine by inspection that a particularly numbered machine (1234) was secured by a metal band (567-890).
(2) Each voting machine had two counters. One was a protected analog counter and was essentially an odometer. It recorded the total number of votes ever taken on the machine. Our standard process was to verify that the protected counters had numbers which matched what our Poll Opening procedures/worksheets.
(3) The other counter was a digital counter and when the polls opened, it was certified as reading ‘0’.
The thing which is incredibly disconcerting is that we know how to put safeguards in place to reduce the chances of fraud. Even in Fairfax County, VA, they tried to make sure that poll worker’s party affiliation was evenly split, with the Chief of Precinct reflecting the party of the governor by tradition, and the Asst. Chief the other party.
Poll watchers were completely free to observe our poll set up and initial certification and our poll close process, complete with all of the totalizing, recording, and final signatures and sealing of the results.
Transparancy is so important during elections and if Romney wins, there needs to be a serious conversation about the integrity of voting.