[LINK] stupid oul pencil

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sat May 2 23:12:50 AEST 2009


DUBLIN, IRELAND – For sale: 7,500 electronic voting machines. Never used. 
Will need retrofit for security. Cost: $67 million, but all offers 
considered. Contact Irish government.

Bought in the midst of the booming Celtic Tiger economy, these Dutch-
built Nedap Powervote system machines were technologically chíc. Piloted 
in three constituencies during the 2002 general election, they were 
expected to eliminate lengthy manual counts and parse votes from 
Ireland’s complicated proportional representation system to give instant 

And if Ireland didn’t embrace e-voting, warned then Taoiseach [Prime 
Minister] Bertie Ahern in 2006, the country would be a laughing 
stock “with our stupid oul pencils,” he said, using an Irish 
colloquialism for “old.”

But the stupid oul pencils have had the last laugh. 

Ireland is now selling its unused machines, which thus far have incurred 
storage fees of €3.5 million [$4.6 million].

Although manual counting can be inaccurate, it doesn’t carry the same 
security concerns of electronics.

A report from Ireland’s Commission on Electronic Voting, “found it very 
easy to bypass electronic security measures and gain complete control of 
the ‘hardened PC,’ overwrite the software, and thereby, in theory, to 
gain complete control over the count in a given constituency.”

Similar concerns have surfaced in the United States and Europe. The Dutch 
government abandoned electronic voting after the anti e-voting group, Wij 
vertrouwen stemcomputers niet [We don’t trust voting computers] hacked 
into a machine on a television documentary and changed results.


Last month, two Germans - political scientist Joachim Wiesner and his son 
Ulrich – won a lawsuit in the German Constitutional Court, which ruled 
that the machines were unconstitutional. “Even cell phones are better 
protected against manipulation,” said Ulrich Wiesner in an interview with 
Der Spiegel.

The principal concern is that the Nedap machines don’t leave a paper-
trail and, according to opponents, can display one vote but record 
another. http://evoting.jlambe.com/download/vm/

The Irish government could retrofit the units with the paper-based VVAT - 
Voter Verifiable Audit Trail – but at a cost of up to €27 million [US$36 
million]. “The financial and other resources that would be involved in 
modifying the machines could not be justified in present circumstances,” 
says John Gormley, Minister for the Environment.



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