[E-voting] Press Release second draft with substantial changes

Casey, Dermot (GE Consumer Finance) Dermot.Casey at ge.com
Thu Apr 15 09:54:10 IST 2004


Thanks to all for comments. Think I've captured all the main points and 
reworked this substantially...

If anyone wants to include more quotes or not to be quoted let me know

Regards

Dermot


[DRAFT ICTE PRESS RELEASE : NOT FOR DISTRUIBUTION]

REPORTS ON IRISH E-VOTING PILOT REVEAL LITANY OF ERRORS
{still not happy with title, maybe improve Litany of Errors somehow}

Contrary to claims by the Department of the Environment and
Martin Cullen T.D.[1], [2],  significant flaws have were discovered
in the results from Nedap/Powervote system at the time time of the 2002 
elections . "Specific claims that recognise 'the earlier successful
use of the system in Ireland in three constituencies at the 2002
general election' [3] are misleading, misinformed and mistaken"
commented Dermot Casey of the Irish Citizens for Trustworthy
E-Voting (ICTE)

In documentation released under the Freedom of Information (FoI) act to 
Mr Joe McCarthy reveal that there were significant failures with the counts 
in two of the three constituencies where the system was trialled in the 2002 
General Election and the Nice II Referendum.

In the case of the Dail Election to Dublin West Constituancy,
official documents released under the FoI indicate the Presiding
Officer recorded 29272 votes having been cast. The Nedap/Powervote
modules recorded 29988 votes as having being cast, a difference of 716 votes. 
These 716 ghost votes represent 2.5% of those  who voted in the 2002 
General Election in Dublin West.

A further flaw emerged in 2002 in the result of the Dublin North Election
where Nora Owen lost her seat. In Dublin North the Fol documents indicate 
that the presiding officer recorded 45236 votes as being cast. The 
Nedap/Powervote modules recorded only 43942 votes. This difference of 1294 
votes represents 2.8% of total poll and is extremely worrying in an 
election where less than 200 votes separated the last two candidates.

It is quite possible that the discripencies were caused by human
rather than machine error. However with a proper voter verified paper
audit trail (VVAT) it is impossible to tell. As Colm MacCárthaigh of 
ICTE commented " There is simply no record of how many people actually 
turned up to vote, so we plain don't know if votes went missing or appeared 
out of nowhere." Mr Casey noted that "without a voter verified paper audit 
trail the security, accuracy and integrity of the electoral process 
will be undermined."


In pushing the proposed e-voting system  Minister Cullen has pointed  out 
"There is no doubt that some seats can be decided by error. In the last 
local elections 21,000 votes were declared spoiled, while at the same time 
40 seats were decided by less than 50 votes." [4] We now have a situation 
where there are questions surrounding 2000 votes in just two constituances,
a problem potentially four times worse than spoilt votes if repeated across
all 43 constituancies. Discrepenices of this magnitude are rare in most 
elections. Groups monitoring the Nice II Referendum  pointed out at the 
time that "There is also no correlation in the polling station  between the
number of votes cast and the number of votes counted, even though this
is an elementary procedure in most if not all polling stations in the
former Communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe.  Across the
whole of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, indeed, it is
extremely rare, in BHHRG's very wide experience of such polls, for the
two figures not to tally at the polling station level" [5]

A key flaw with the The Nedap/Powervote system is that it removed the 
physical ballot paper that created the ability to independantly audit 
election results in an open, transparent and reliable manner. 
Mr Aengus Lalor of ICTE noted "The problem with
the proposed electronic system is that we will no longer have those
physical ballot papers, so the cross-check against the number of ballots
cast becomes far more important." Mr Colm MacCárthaigh of ICTE further noted 
"that this degree of error would be unheard-of with the existing paper system,
where discrepancies can be easily seen and corrected in plain view of 
candidates and their agents. The numbers of votes in doubt here amount to 
five or ten times the usual number of spoiled paper ballots."



NOTES ON ICTE TO GO HERE

DETAILS OF COMMENTERS TO GO HERE
Dermot
Colm
Aengus




[1]  Statement By Minister Martin Cullen TD On Electronic Voting
2nd March, 2004.
http://www.environ.ie/DOEI/doeipub.nsf/wvInfoView/F2E493E21D32D6DF80256E4B00
5AE348?OpenDocument&Lang=en

[2] Government confirms nationwide Electronic Voting in June
25th February 2004
http://www.environ.ie/DOEI%5Cdoeipub.nsf/0/CB1DD07409C9F66980256E450032B2AB?
OpenDocument&Lang=en

[3] Dail Debate on Electronic Voting, February 17th 2004
Transcript available at
http://evoting.cs.may.ie/Documents/Evoting_Feb18_2004.doc

[4] Dail Debate on Electronic Voting, February 17th 2004
Transcript available at
http://evoting.cs.may.ie/Documents/Evoting_Feb18_2004.doc

[5] BRITISH HELSINKI HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP

http://www.bhhrg.org/CountryReport.asp?ChapterID=581&CountryID=37&ReportID=1
88&keyword=




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