[E-voting] "Black box" irregularities in the House of Representatives?

Timothy Murphy tim at birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
Mon Aug 1 13:25:27 IST 2005

On Sun 31 Jul 2005 23:51, Catherine Ansbro wrote:

> It doesn't matter to you whether or not legislators' votes are recorded
> accurately?  Why bother with democracy at all, then?  What an
> "inconvenience" it must seem to you.  (And why bother participating in
> this e-group?)

I agree with Churchill - democracy is the worst possible system,
apart from all the others that have been tried from time to time.

As I see it, the basic principle is that policy 
should follow the general will,
as measured by giving each person a vote.

I would actually attach more weight to persuading as many people as possible
to vote, rather than ensuring that the vote was mathematically exact.
If a genuine mistake is made (and it is obvious that several such mistakes
are made  at every count in the present system,
since re-counts never give exactly the same result)
it doesn't seem to me that significant.

Of course malicious tampering with an electronic vote is 
a completely different matter.

In the case in question, where there seems to have been an innocent confusion
over one vote,
I would put this on a par with a TD being involved in a car accident
on the way to the Dail,
or being so drunk he pressed the wrong button.
(This must be easier than driving the wrong way down a motorway.)

> Do we have any checks and balances in the Oireachtas in case the
> electronic system doesn't function correctly? 

Are votes in the Dail secret?
If not, I would have thought it was perfectly simple
to determine whether a vote was correct or not.

Timothy Murphy  
e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
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