Electronic Voting in Ireland - colmmacc/e-voting-  · Electronic Voting in Ireland Colm MacCárthaigh

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  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

    Colm MacCrthaighIrish Citizens for Trustworthy E-voting - www.evoting.cs.may.ie

    E-mail: colm -at- allcosts.net


  • Before I begin

    Some photos are from www.ireland.com (and can be purchased there)

    Some photos are from www.electronicvoting.ie

    Other links:





  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Elections in Ireland - some background

    Proportional Representation by means of a Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV) specified in the constitution.

    An election occurs roughly every 2 years on average

    A referendum occurs roughly every 3 years on average

    Counts are centralised and lengthy

    Counts have a very high degree of scrutiny by international standards

    Polls are administered by the Government through the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government but operated locally.

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Elections in Ireland - some background

    Polling stations in local schools, sports centres and so on

    1 Polling officer and 1 control clerk per ballot box. Roughly 50 ballot boxes per constituency

    1 returning officer per constituency

    Roughly 30 counting officers per constituency

    Long voting hours (08:00 to 22:00)

    Electoral register is notoriously inaccurate

  • Reasons to use E-voting

    Enables voting for the disabled

    Reduces voting error

    Reduces counting error

    Saves money

    Looks better, advances society, e-government, etc. ?

  • E-voting timeline

    E-voting first examined and proposed in 1998

    First procurement round in 1999 (Nedap/Powervote are winners)

    E-voting trials in 3 and then 7 constituencies in 2002

    ICTE founded in May 2003

    E-voting scheduled for use nationwide in June 2004

    E-voting abandoned on May 1st 2004

  • Major E-voting issues

    No meaningful tests were ever performed, no end to end test.

    The only limited parallel tests actually failed, and the public were never told.

    The software has never been finalised and is under constant re-development.

    System had no functional specification.

    System had no acceptance tests.

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-voting

    E-voting activism did exist before ICTE

    Margaret McGaley thesis

    Joe McCarthy FoI requests

    Others too

    ICTE founded in May 2003 by Margaret McGaley

    First action was to start the mailing list, and announce ourselves to the world

    First real world meeting in July 2003 (over 100 subscribers by then)

  • Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-voting

    Margaret and Joe, and the Labour party, present to a parliamentary committee in December 2003, twice.

    Committee asks Minister to suspend roll-out and all spending, but a week later reverses this decision.

    Contract for 7,000 machines signed the very next day.

    Contract for even more machines signed the next month.

    Through action and media attention issue heats up over next few months

  • Electronic Voting in Ireland

  • Commission on Electronic Voting

    Following several debates in the parliament, Government finally concede a little and form the special Commission on Electronic Voting.

    Commission consists of 2 political appointees, a former high court judge, and the clerks of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

    Commission accepts over 165 submissions on the issue (less then 10 favour the system), asks various academics to analyse the issues.

    Reports on April 30th that it cannot recommend the system for use.

    Issues full report in December 2004, and then 2nd report in 2006.

  • Government Line

    Junior Government party decided to get out of the argument

    Government line has consistently been that the machines will be put to use following various changes (mainly the counting software), have never accepted the need for a VVAT.

    Government has at times resorted to outright lies.

    Government now saying the machines will be used in 2009, though it is not clear if anything is actually being done about this.

    Government changed its media campaign in response to us. Instead of Electronic voting being easy for everyone, the new campaign says safe, accurate and reliable.

  • What worked for us

    Not ever getting distracted by side-issues. By refusing to engage in meaningless arguments over money wasted, various reports and so on, simply constantly re-iterating the need for VVAT proved very successful.

    Open Collaboration - including press releases, media and legal strategies. There is little to fear when you have truth on your side.

    Political and Media awareness. Knowing the names of politicians, correspondents and other journalists can be very important.

    Having no money - being independent and grass-roots is a help with the media.

    ICTE supports E-voting, but only with a VVAT

  • What we could do better

    Hard to coordinate and channel a volunteer effort, requires a lot of dedication.

    More focus on the legal strategy and a call for an independent electoral commission.

    Help the E-voting issue internationally, particularly in Europe.

    Having realistic alternatives described can help win the media battles.

  • Current Status

    Government say they want to use the machines in 2009

    NEDAP say extensive and expensive modification required (initial speculation is at 20 million euro)

    Electronic Voting elections require more staff and cost more to run than traditional ones

    Electronic Voting would probably lead to queueing due to miscalculation on the number of machines required

    Public confidence in the machines at an all-time low due to hacking here in the Netherlands.

  • Current Status

    Machines still costing 700,000 euro a year just to store.

    More and more FoI material is coming in.

    ICTE and Digitalrights.ie cooperating on a potential legal challenge.

    Still no work within Government on the issue

  • Questions?