[E-voting] Response from the Minister

Ciaran Quinn election at polarbears.com
Sun Nov 28 20:49:15 GMT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Adrian Colley" <aecolley at spamcop.net>
To: "Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting" <e-voting at lists.stdlib.net>
Subject: Re: [E-voting] Response from the Minister
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 19:07:24 +0000


> Here are my thoughts.  I think it's a complete list, but I don't expect
> high scores for diplomacy or brevity.

I have added some comments. 

Also, I also think it is important to find out whether there is any possibility of electronic voting being used for the forthcoming byelections and EU Constitution referendum. An official statement would be useful.

> 2. The ICS and the ACM have exceptionally clear positions on VVAT/VVPB.
>    It would be wise to pay attention to them, because they know what
>    they're talking about.  (And the media now understand this fact.)
Does the ICTE have a clear method for implementing VVAT, given issues such as randomisation, ballot secrecy, etc. Does the ICTE believe that the Nedap/Powervote system can be amended or that it should be scrapped?
> 3. It isn't enough for the election results to be correct: they must be
>    seen to be correct.  Current events from the US and Ukraine
>    illustrate this quite well.  "Trust me, I'm a [insert profession]!"
>    isn't good enough, but an audit trail is.
Also the fact that a former Environment minister was declared officially corrupt here - 2 decades after serving as Environment minister in Charlie Haighey's government.
> 5. How much leeway does the Minister have in deviating from the policy
>    laid down by his predecessors from the same political party?  A
>    politically acceptable way out may be to assign some functions to a
>    permanent electoral commission, as in the UK.
and as in the Ukraine?
> 12. If the paper and electronic records differ, there is no confusion.
>     The paper has been verified by the voter; the electronic record
>     hasn't.  Rerunning the election is a possible alternative.
It is also worth noting that it is possible to "improve" the STV counting method in various ways such that manual counting becomes very difficult. This could be a method of surreptitiously abolishing VVAT in future.
> 14. During the pilots, a machine was used despite its seal having been
>     broken.  The rationalisation was that it probably wasn't tampered
>     with after the seal broke, which probably happened accidentally in
>     transit.  This sloppy approach to security is a vote-tamperer's
>     dream.  Regardless of whether or not VVAT is required, these details
>     of secure procedures must be taken seriously in future.
The possibility of vote-tamperers within the election administration staff must be taken into account.
> 15. Voting machines replace booths, not boxes.  If enough machines are
>     provided, costs will skyrocket because one official is needed for
>     each machine.  If fewer machines are provided, we can expect queues
>     to grow as they did in parts of the US, with some precincts
>     reporting queuing times of seven hours, which tends to discourage
>     voters.
There was a minor controversy at the 2002 general election about the closure of a very remote polling station in South Kerry. Is there a policy (stated or unstated) to amalgamate rural polling stations to prevent problems occurring with machine breakdowns? 


Ciaran Quinn

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