Colm MacCarthaigh colm at stdlib.net
Tue Apr 6 13:22:40 IST 2004



In a development that demonstrates the absolute need for verifiability in
computing systems it has been revealed that 5 submissions, submitted to the
Commission on Electronic Voting via the www.cev.ie website in advance of the
March 26th deadline, were not received by the Commission despite the high level
of competence, openness and profesionalism the Commission's staff have shown.
The fact that this had occurred was only noticed after the list of submission
authors was published by the Commission and the missing submission authors
noticed their own absence.

"This is similar to the verifiability we need in Electronic Voting" said Colm
MacCárthaigh of ICTE. "When the authors made their submissions, the system
informed them they had been recorded -- but it was not until the final list was
published that it was evident they had not. With the Powervote/Nedap Electronic
Voting system there is no means by which a voter can verify their vote has been
recorded correctly. Similar problems would have gone unnoticed" he continued.

ICTE have reviewed all 162 submissions (including the now added submissions
158-162), over 150 of which do not support the nationwide introduction of the
chosen electronic voting system and 84 of which make clear the necessity of a
voter-verified audit trail. "It must now be abundantly clear to the Minister
that the calls for a voter-verified audit trail are coming from a great many
eminent IT professionals and academics" said MacCárthaigh.

A comprehensive review of the submissions has also brought to light more
serious concerns regarding the security of the chosen system. In submission
number 98 on behalf of Powervote, Mr. Roy Loudon revealed that "A new version
of IES is issued prior to each poll". "Releasing a new version prior to each
poll limits the time available for testing as well as providing ample
opportunity for defects to be introduced on a per-poll basis" explained Mr.

It was also revealed by the Department of the Environment, in submission number
110, that the counting machines are "pre-loaded" with software, supplied by the
Local Government Computer Services Board, prior to delivery.  "Either public
money is being wasted on pre-loading software that is then re-installed by the
computer services board or the board are simply trusting yet another
third-party with the installation of critical software.  Neither is appropriate
in our opinion" said MacCárthaigh. 


Colm MacCárthaigh is available for interview:

email: colm at stdlib.net

phone: 087 6578226

Margaret McGaley is available for interview:
email: mmcgaley at cs.may.ie

phone: 087 755 4023

ICTE has a website available at


ICTE's main goals are:

    * to ensure that any electronic voting system introduced in Ireland
      meets the following criteria

        o it includes a Voter Verified Audit Trail (VVAT),
        o a booth is used, analogous to the traditional polling booth,

        o all development uses formal methods,

        o all source code is open to public scrutiny and audit.

    * to prevent the use of the Nedap/Powervote system in Irish Elections 
      until it meets said criteria

    * to prevent the purchase of any more equipment or software from
      Nedap/Powervote by the Irish Government unless the system being
      purchased meets said criteria.

Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key: colm+pgp at stdlib.net

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