[E-voting] EDRI-gram article, first draft

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Thu Jul 6 17:00:30 IST 2006

Excellent summary.  Consider adding any of the following points:

It has already been acknowledged (perhaps the report mentions this?) 
that there is no question of the proposed system being used in the next 
Irish elections, May 2007 at the latest.  It would be impossible to 
develop, implement and test a revised system in time.

The political realities in Ireland may mean it is likely/possible that 
an incoming government will choose to scrap or sell the system rather 
than sending good money after bad.  The system hardware uses some 
components that were considered outdated in 2002.  The machines would be 
so old by the time they would be modified and tested that it is 
difficult to imagine anyone seriously proposing their use. 

The report's many positive-sounding sound-bytes ("could be suitable for 
use in an Irish election if . . .") provide current government officials 
with quotable face-saving comments.  But the reality is that making the 
system usable would require a significant expenditure of time, effort 
and taxpayer money on an electronic system which has little if any 
visible popular support.  It will be politically difficult to justify 
the ongoing expense just of the secure storage, let alone the expense of 
the many significant modifications called for in the Report.


Margaret McGaley wrote:

> David Glaude has been pushing me, for as long as I can remember, to 
> contribute to the EDRI-gram newsletter. I've put together a first 
> draft of an article about the commission's report. Please comment.
> Margaret
> On Tuesday the 4th of July the Commission on Electronic Voting (CEV) 
> released
> its second report on the secrecy and accuracy of the e-voting system 
> purchased
> by the Irish Government.
> The summary remarks at the beginning of the 200 page report say:
>    "The Commission concludes that it can recommend the voting and 
> counting
>     equipment of the chosen system for use at elections in Ireland, 
> subject
>     to further work it has also recommended, but that it is unable to
>     recommend the election management software for such use."
> The "further work" referred to appears from the phrasing of the rest 
> of the
> introduction to be relatively minor, but a detailed reading of the report
> reveals the extent of the changes required.
> In order to comply with the "further work" that is a condition of the
> commission's recommendation of this system, the following changes (among
> others) will have to be made:
> 1) add a voter verified audit trail
> 2) replace the election management software (which prepares election 
> data,
>     reads votes from "ballot modules", and calculates results) with a 
> version
>     that is developed to mission critical standards
> 3) modify the embedded software within the voting machines to bring it 
> up to
>     mission critical standard
> 4) make certain modifications to the machines themselves
> 5) test all components to mission critical standard
> 6) modify the specification for the PC that is to be used for vote 
> managment
> 7) test the system as a whole (including end-to-end testing) to mission
>     critical standard
> 8) rectify the security vulnerabilities identified in the way data is
>     transferred within the system
> The minister responsible has indicated that he intends to continue 
> with the
> introduction of this system. ICTE are pushing for a comprehensive 
> cost/benefit
> analysis be to carried out before any decision to continue is made. 
> The costs
> in terms of money and time will be considerable, and they need to be 
> calculated
> accurately before they can be compared to the supposed benefits.
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