[E-voting] [Fwd: Green TD calls for pilot e-voting project for TDs - Make elected representatives more productive - says Gogarty]

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Thu Jun 16 14:02:19 IST 2005

Was I surprised to see the following press release.  The desire for 
efficiency is laudable.  But I am horrified at the implications. 

This would be the beginning of a very slippery slope.  If e-voting is 
"ok" for TDs who are enacting legislation, why should it be "less ok" 
for elections?  Can you imagine the implications of this suggestion?  
This would probably be even easier to hack than the proposed e-voting 
system.  Since there'd be no paper trail no one could prove that they 
really voted how they think they did.  Just think of the interesting 
legislation that might get passed by fraudulent means.  (E.g., someone 
could say, "oh, you must have pressed the wrong button."  And unlike 
elections, where there is a procedure for appealing a decision or 
calling for a recount, how would one address the possibility of a Dail 
or Seanad vote being hacked?)  Would the legislation be legal or not?  
Would TDs even pay attention to whether or not their votes were recorded 

The person(s) responsible for this press release are clearly not clued 
in at all on the very real security issues.  (Dep. Gogarty is not the 
person with the brief for local gov't/e-votingissue; that was Ciaran 
Cuffe, who was briefed in 2002.) 

Introducing e-voting should not be used as a substitute for the 
badly-needed overhaul of an appallingly inefficient Dail system.

There are surely other solutions that would improve efficiency that 
would be more secure.  (E.g., each party could have dedicated phone 
lines manned by a staff person who would require TDs to give a secret ID 
number plus other confidential information in the same way a bank 
verifies one's identity, taping the conversation and recording their 
vote on paper and then submitting it, or some variation of this.  Since 
the number of TDs is small this would not be such a major issue.)  Or 
maybe other folks here could think of far better ideas.  I don't know 
how practical it would be to have a "window" of time in which TDs could 
record their votes by phone or in person.

This press release says to me that the Green TDs never understood the 
depth of the problems connected to all forms of e-voting.  I guess they 
have not kept up with the horror stories coming out of the USA, where 
machines are now failing audits and some have already been 
de-certified.  The e-voting machines here have many of the same 
vulnerabilities.  But here in Ireland we can't even do an audit because 
all the records were destroyed long before Joe McCarthy's FOI requests 
revealed  there were problems.  God only knows what we'd find if we 
still had access to the machines used on the 2002 pilot that was such a 
technical failure while being touted at the time as a "success."

Thoughts, anyone?  Should ICTE put out a press release responding to 
this proposal?  Should someone from ICTE contact Dep. Gogarty to brief 
him on this issue?  Does anyone here at ICTE think my concerns are 


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Green TD calls for pilot e-voting project for TDs - Make 
elected representatives more productive - says Gogarty
Date: 	Thu, 16 Jun 2005 13:16:53 +0100
From: 	srawson at oireachtas.ie
To: 	newsdesk at rte.ie

Proposal for electronic voting outside of the Dáil chamber.doc)

16th June 2005

Green TD calls for pilot e-voting project for TDs

        Make elected representatives more productive - says Gogarty

The Green Party has called on the Government to initiate a study on the
feasibility of an electronic voting system for TDs and Senators who are
unable to physically attend a vote.   Green party Education and Science
spokesperson, Paul Gogarty TD, believes a pilot project could be set up
which could be expanded if the move proves successful.

"We live in an electronic age and in a country where Oireachtas members
play an equal role as legislators and as constituency representatives. Many
members are forced to waste time hanging around the Dáil or Seanad to vote
on an issue they are not directly involved in. As a result their work on
other legislation and constituency matters suffers. It would make sense, if
the technology is present, to allow certain votes to be made remotely, that
is away from Dublin. In this way, members could fulfil their obligations to
vote while also carrying out other work they are elected to do," stated

The Green TD's call comes in the wake of a paper circulated to Oireachtas
members by Peter Thornes, a radiologist returning to Ireland after several
years in Europe and South America. Deputy Gogarty says that if the
technical hurdles could be overcome, electronic voting could revolutionise
the way politics is carried out.

"There are two schools of thought in relation to the current system. On the
one hand you have empty chambers because TDs are busy doing work elsewhere,
while keeping a close eye on the monitors. And then the place fills up for
a vote. Thousands of minutes are wasted getting to and from the chamber.
Yet Ministers and their opposition counterparts do not have to turn up
because of pairing arrangements. Is it right that they do not share the
same voting obligations as other members of the Houses? I believe that the
vote is what counts, not the location," explained Gogarty.

"While concerns have been raised about electronic voting nationally because
of the lack of a verifiable trail, with TDs and Senators the situation is
different, because the voting is carried out in public. Huge advances have
been made in mobile technology and a system combined with fingerprint
recogition could work very well. This is why I am urging the Government to
investigate the feasibility of remote electronic voting. A pilot scheme
could be carried out initially for committee votes and if this is
successful it could be explanded," he said.

Paul Gogarty TD                           01 618 3022 / 087 275 2489
Stephen Rawson Press Officer              01 618 4088 / 087 235 7551

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