[E-voting] Complaint to the Ceann Comhairle/Petition

Michael McGrath mmcgrathbl at eircom.net
Sun Mar 7 14:43:30 GMT 2004

Regarding the proposed complaint to the Ceann Comhairle, the infringement of one's rights is not in itself a good reason to initiate proceedings. Were we to make a complaint, its resolution could be seen/spun as an independent decision on the merits of our case. Were we to lose on a procedural point, and we very well might, that would damage our credibility generally. Further, the resolution of the issue could be taken as an inflection point in the coverage of the debate such that the media will move on from "the e-voting thing". I understand that it is unpleasant to be the victim of spin, but as I tell similarly aggrieved clients as they are being led away to prison, people do not always recount matters as you would like - get over it. I recommend that we focus on the real issue - VVAT.

Regarding the petition, Dr. Pelan disagreed with my submission that this is a technical issue, stating:
>This is not a technical issue but one of trusting an unverifiable
>third-party to conduct your entire electoral process. I do accept however
>that for the purposes of the debate, such as it is, it is vital to be seen
>to have strong technical qualifications.

I do not think that there is much separating Dr. Pelan and I. My comments were made from the standpoint of a non-computer scientist who has to decide whether I trust a particular e-voting system or not: should a computer scientist tell me that System A is a trustworthy e-voting system, I cannot disagree with that conclusion in the absence of another computer scientist telling me otherwise. The trustworthiness of the system is bound up in its technical specifications and to attempt to juxtapose trust and technical specifications is to construct a false dichotomy. In the circumstances I stand over my original submission that the views of persons without the qualifications to come to an independent conclusion as to the trustworthiness of the proposed system are of little weight in the court of public opinion and should not be allowed to dilute the petition.

Michael McGrath
Barrister at Law
Courthouse Chambers
Washington Street
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