[LINK] stupid oul pencil
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sat May 2 23:12:50 EST 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
Irelands complicated proportional representation system to give instant
And if Ireland didnt 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 doesnt carry the same
security concerns of electronics.
A report from Irelands 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 dont 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
The principal concern is that the Nedap machines dont leave a paper-
trail and, according to opponents, can display one vote but record
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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