[E-voting] Rebecca Mercuri tonight at 6.25 Newstalk106

Brian Reynolds brian at newstalk106.ie
Thu Feb 12 14:55:54 GMT 2004

Dr Mercuri will join us here on the right hook on Newstalk106 at 6.25pm

Usual questions and comments to brian at newstalk106.ie 0857 106 106 or call

Brian Reynolds
The Right Hook
Newstalk 106

Mobile 00 353 86 1036477
Land   00 353 1 6445103
Fax     00 353 1 6445199
Email  brian at newstalk106.ie

"NewsTalk 106 has experienced a 129% increase in popularity. It's the stuff
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Casey, Dermot (GE Consumer Finance)" <Dermot.Casey at ge.com>
To: "Casey, Dermot (GE Consumer Finance)" <Dermot.Casey at ge.com>; "Cian"
<pooka at redbrick.dcu.ie>; <e-voting at lists.stdlib.net>
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2004 2:45 PM
Subject: [E-voting] Draft Press Release version 3.0 (also can someone
getMichael Martin quote)

Thanks for all the comments, dropped one point, added a few others which I
think improves this.

If someone can get the exact quote from Michael Martin from Saturday View
the stream is here but I'm having Real Player issues

Government on the defensive over criticisms of e-voting

Despite attempts to put a glossy spin on the proposed electronic voting
(e-voting) system, Government Spokespersons and Ministers have been put on
the defensive due to grave concerns over the safety of the e-voting system,
system, according to Dermot Casey of Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-Voting
(ICTE). The EUR4.5M publicity campaign described by Marian Finucane as more
like "publicity for a brand of yogurt, rather than a serious tool of
democracy" caused the first furore. One of the PR campaign leaflets had to
be withdrawn less than a day after the launch due to the party political
nature of the leaflet, which showed an individual voting for Fianna Fail.

Casey, an IT expert noted that "Almost on a daily basis new issues are
raised with e-voting as touted benefits disappear when subjected to
scrutiny". Some supporters of e-Voting have claimed that e-Voting will be
more accurate, as it will remove the "random" aspect of surplus distribution
inherent in the current system. While it is possible for a computerised
count system to eliminate this random aspect of the current process, the
e-voting system being implemented by the Government doesn't do this. Instead
it implements exactly the same process as the manual count procedure,
selecting surplus ballots for transfer at random. Any change in this process
would probably require changes in the legislation.

Claims that the system has been successfully used by 400,000 citizen came
under fire when it was  revealed last week that there were 400 "invalid
votes" recorded in the 6 Dublin constituencies that used e-Voting in the 2nd
Nice Referendum, despite official results reporting  "0 Spoiled Votes". ICTE
points out that in the absence of voter verifiable audit trail (VVAT) we do
not know really how the machines responded to the putative votes, and that
other more serious problems may be concealed by the software which is still
under revision. Technical information on the previous implementation of
e-voting was dragged from the Minister for the Environment by expensive
freedom of information requests over a number of months and highlights a
large number of unaddressed questions with e-voting.

Catherine Ansbro, ICTE member based in Co. Roscommon and Deputy Chair of
the Green Party National Council, noted that "Bernard Allen (TD) has said,
on record in the Dail that Minister Cullen "is telling lies"  when he
claimed that all questions about e-voting had been answered before the Dail
committee. Given the serious concerns surrounding e-voting and of the
genuine threat to public confidence in the democratic process the Green
Party are considering a legal challange to the current e-voting proposals.

Discribing the Government plan to introduce e-voting as "an outbreak of
technophilia", Senator David Norris highlighted the problems with e-voting
when he illustrated serious flaws in the Dail e-voting system. The Dail
system, which callopsed last year due to a computer virus, was fiddled by
Senator Norris. "It's very easy to fiddle them," Senator Norris told his
colleagues. "I have done it. I have fiddled a vote in this House, a trial
vote. I voted three times and nobody spotted it."

Casey notes that with approximately EUR800 per machine being spend on
convincing people of the value of e-voting, serious questions have been
raised over why a fraction of this money wasn't spend on ensuring that the
system contained a voter verifiable audit trail (VVAT), which would ensure
the integrity of the process.  These points were recently highlighted by the
internationally recognised expert on e-voting Dr Rebecca Mercuri. Dr Mercuri
reiterated the critical importance of checks and balances in all computer
systems as vital in maintining the integrity of the system. In debate with
Minister for Health Micheal Martin, Dr. Mercuri put a clearly uncomfortable
Minister on the back foot, forcing him to concede that further efforts were
needed to reach a concensus.

Ansbro notes that the frantic rush to implement a verifiably flawed
technology illustrates that that Government neither understands technology
nor appreciates the subtleties in developing software. She comments, "The
current approach leads one to believe that the Minister is so convinced in
the absolute infallibility of computer software and hardware, and the
absolute incorruptability of everyone associated with the development,
handling and storage of our electronic voting system, that he feels
non-electronic rechecks will never be needed.  The experience elsewhere in
the world strongly suggests otherwise.  The Government should add VVAT in
time for the local elections.  There is still time to do this.

As Margaret McGaley  spokesperson of the ICTE pointed out on Questions &
Answers, "'computers don't make mistakes, people make mistakes, and people
program computers'."


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