[E-voting] More Parliamentary Questions

Ciaran Mac Lochlainn ciaran17 at eircom.net
Tue Mar 9 23:15:54 GMT 2004


  425. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage
 and Local Government the steps which were taken in the procurement
 process for the electronic voting systems to comply with the
 applicable guidelines regarding accessibility for the visually
 impaired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7912/04]

   Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr.
 Cullen): The electronic voting machine supplied following the
 competitive tendering process contains a designated port to receive
 a unit to enable the visually impaired to vote independently.  None
 of the companies that submitted tenders was in a position to supply
 such a unit in the short term.
  At my Department's request, the chosen suppliers have undertaken
 initial work on developing a facility for future use whereby
 visually impaired voters, who would otherwise require assistance to
 vote, will be able to use the new voting system independently.  My
 Department will consult with the National Disability Authority and
 the National Council for the Blind, which have already provided
 constructive input into improvements made to the voting machine,
 about the development of this voting machine feature.
  Since its first use in 2002, a number of improvements have already
 been made to the voting machine to improve its user friendliness for
 the visually impaired and other users.  The new features include an
 increase in the size and legibility of candidate details, the use of
 larger preference numbers and brighter displays for better
 visibility and the use of a redesigned "cast vote" button.  As with
 previous elections, a large copy of the ballot paper will be
 displayed in the polling station and a voter with a visual
 impairment may also avail of assisted voting facilities.

  426. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage
 and Local Government if he expects the introduction of electronic
 voting to have an impact on delays and queues during peak voting
 times. [7913/04]

   Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr.
 Cullen): The provision of good arrangements for the service of
 voters in polling stations is the responsibility of the relevant
 returning officer, having regard to the number of electors assigned
 to each polling station and other local factors. Electronic voting
 machines will represent an important, but not the only, element of
 this service in June 2004.  It has already been arranged that over
 7,000 voting machines will be available for use at the coming
 European and local elections compared to an estimated 6,200 ballot
 boxes under the paper based system.  Problems with queuing did not
 occur at the two pilots for electronic voting in 2002 and
 difficulties are not anticipated in June 2004.

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 When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall 
one by one,
 an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
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