[E-voting] Legal/Constitutional Opinions on eVoting (was: Electronic Voting in the Dáil Yesterday)

Adrian Colley aecolley at spamcop.net
Fri Dec 2 02:35:46 GMT 2005


On Thu, Dec 01, 2005 at 12:12:35PM +0000, Keith Martin wrote:
> I'm also told that in one of Labour's submissions to the CEV, it was
> argued that eVoting was unconstitutional.  It wasn't in the main
> "Labour Party" one, but was in one of the ones submitted by Labour
> Party representatives or members - I just can't remember which!

My favourite argument is that the Constitution requires that elections
for President and for the Dáil must be "by secret ballot" (articles
12.2.3° and 16.1.4°), and an electronic vote record isn't a ballot.
My copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines "ballot" as:

noun: 1 a process of voting, in writing and usually secret.
      2 the total of votes recorded in a ballot.
      3 the drawing of lots.
      4 a paper or ticket etc. used in voting.
verb: (balloted, balloting)
      1 (intransitive) (usually followed by "for")
        a. hold a ballot, give a vote.
        b. draw lots for precedence etc.
      2 (transitive) take a ballot of ("the union balloted its members").
also: ballot-box: a sealed box into which voters put completed ballot-papers.
also: ballot-paper: a slip of paper used to register a vote.

The Electoral (Amendment) Acts 2001 and 2004 define "ballot paper" as
including an electronic vote record, but that doesn't affect
interpretation of the Constitution.

Oddly, a referendum under article 47 (e.g. for amendments to the
Constitution) doesn't have to be by ballot, or even in secret.
The referendum in 2002 was still illegal, but for a different reason:
the law wasn't properly changed to permit e-voting in a referendum until
2004.

 --Adrian.

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