[E-voting] First draft press release

Stan Nangle stan at voyager.ie
Wed Jul 5 15:39:12 IST 2006

On Wed, 05 Jul 2006 15:32:41 +0100, Margaret McGaley wrote
> Requirement 24 (part 9, page 203) says:
> "The feasibility of implementing enhanced levels of audit within the 
> hardware of the chosen
> system should be explored, including by means of the printer already 
> present in the voting
> machine or by the further adaptation of the voting machine."
> Which is closer than I ever expected them to get to requiring VVAT.

In section 5, where they do a comparison with the normal voting, they say the following 
about VVAT.


C.10: Audit: Vote Recording 
The vote recording process is audited under the paper voting system in the sense that 
the voter can physically inspect the ballot paper that will actually be counted by 
election officials before depositing it in the ballot box. Election observers at the 
count station then physically observe the 
emptying of ballot boxes; these are opened by election officials facing towards the 
observers, to show they are fully empty so that all recorded votes cast are seen to be 

Under the chosen system, the voter sees a display on the voting machine showing the 
preferences that have been registered, and can check that these preferences correspond 
to the buttons pressed. 

However, the voter has no way of verifying that what appears on the display is what is 
actually recorded electronically on the ballot module within the voting machine, 
transmitted to the count centre, loaded onto the count computers, and actually counted 
in the correct manner. This is because what is counted, the electronic vote, cannot 
physically be observed. 

Although it is possible to audit the vote counting process of the chosen system by re-
counting the same set of votes that were included in the original count (see below), 
this provides no assurances with regard to the vote recording process that has gone 
before. In response to this problem, laws have been enacted in the United States, where 
electronic voting is becoming increasingly widespread, requiring some form of paper 
audit trail to be implemented by electoral authorities who use electronic voting 
systems. This involves using voting machines that generate a printed version of the 
ballot. Where a voter verifiable paper audit trail is required, this paper ballot is 
typically kept behind a screen so that the voter cannot touch it. The voter must review 
the paper version and approve it as part of the act of casting a vote before it is 
deposited by the voting machine in a traditional ballot box at the same time as it 
records the vote electronically. 

Similarly, in other countries that have adopted electronic voting, the vote is recorded 
on paper by the voter themselves in the first instance but in a format that is “machine-
readable” and can subsequently be scanned or 
otherwise read in by a machine, recorded electronically and thus incorporated in an 
electronic count. 

In either case, the paper ballots are retained by election officials, with the 
consequence that an election can be fully audited with reference to manual vote records 
if required, using printed ballots that voters have seen and approved as reflecting 
their intentions. While the paper ballots may not necessarily require to be referred to 
in this way in every case, such a requirement may arise from a contested result, or it 
may be a sample count that is audited as part of routine checks to ensure the 
system is working accurately. 

Since the chosen electronic system does not have this facility, and while it does 
provide features to facilitate a degree of independent audit in its vote counting 
function, together with features that facilitate audit at the administrative level and 
confirmation of statutory compliance, it is not subject to any meaningful independent 
audit of its vote recording function. Thus the paper system is superior in this respect. 

More information about the E-voting mailing list