Electronic Poll Book Systems as Distributed Systems: Requirements and Challenges

Electronic poll books are computerized systems that replace paper-based voter lists, having the potential for speeding up Election Day check-in at the polling place, and making voter history records and voter lists more accurate by reducing human errors in dealing with printed voter lists and post-election transcription. At the same time, electronic poll books are non-trivial distributed computing systems, and ensuring correctness, security, integrity, fault-tolerance, and performance of such systems is a challenging engineering problem. This paper deals exclusively with the distributed system aspects of electronic poll book solutions and focuses on the obstacles that are inherent in any distributed system that must deal with failure and asynchrony while providing a consistent and dependable service. We review several requirements that need to be satisfied by electronic poll book systems, then we discuss selected important results from distributed computing research that the developers of electronic poll book systems need to be aware of. An important conclusion is that electronic poll book development is an attractive application domain for the research results in dependable distributed computing.