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

Brian O'Byrne bobyrne at statesoft.ie
Thu Jun 16 14:48:20 IST 2005


There is a major difference between a non-secret ballot like the Dail 
chamber votes and a secret ballot.

Because the number of members is small and well-defined you can 
implement non-repudiation measures (forcing TDs to stand over the 
votes recorded in their name) and openly question votes that appear 
to be against each member's stated position on each issue.

That gives the TDs a strong incentive to ensure the system is not 

I guess you could imagine a situation where a corrupt party might 
subvert the system to ensure all members of the party voted on some 
important piece of legislation, and always voted along party lines. 
There would be an incentive in that case for the members involved not 
to report the tampering. In that case we might be forced to rely on 
the vigilence of the other parties.

You might also imagine a denial-of-service attack, where some members 
were prevented from recording thier votes through some technical 

What else might go wrong...?


On Thursday 16 June 2005 14:02, Catherine Ansbro wrote:
> 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 accurately?
> 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 unfounded?
> Catherine
> -------- 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 Gogarty.
> 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

Brian O'Byrne, Statesoft Ltd.
Tel: +353 1 4100 993, +353 86 240 4719

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