[E-voting] ‘Paper trail’ wanted for vote

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Mon Apr 17 00:15:17 IST 2006


‘Paper trail’ wanted for vote
Richard Oakley
The Sunday Times - Ireland

The government will face increased pressure to fit printers to its 
electronic voting machines when a commission set up to investigate the 
system publishes its findings.

The independent Commission on Electronic Voting (CEV) is expected to 
highlight the use of printers as a means of increasing public trust in 
electronic voting, when it reports in a few months. The €51m system is 
in storage pending the outcome of tests.

A number of American states considering buying the same system are 
demanding they be able to produce a record of votes. A verifiable paper 
trail is also considered best practice by the European commission.

Because the CEV was asked to report on the accuracy of the system in its 
current form, the issue of printers is technically outside its scope. 
However, it will be raised in its next report.

Nedap Powervote, the Dutch firm that supplied the Irish machines, is 
marketing its ballot modules in America in conjunction with a local 
operator, Liberty Election Systems.

The Dutch company has consistently argued that its machines do not need 
printers to ensure reliability. But it will introduce them in America 
because they are required by law in some states.

In Ireland, a paper record would assure voters that their ballots were 
correctly recorded by the machine and should increase confidence in the 

The Department of the Environment has argued against a paper trail, 
pointing out that machines are used elsewhere in Europe without them and 
that it could complicate matters. If voters said the printout was 
different from what they entered, chaos could ensue.

Ireland’s electronic voting system was piloted in three constituencies 
in the general election of 2002. It was suspended after the CEV said it 
was not in a position to recommend its use as it had not had sufficient 
time to test it fully.

The government is currently spending €700,000 a year storing the machines.

More information about the E-voting mailing list