[E-voting] Next press release

Ciaran Quinn election at polarbears.com
Thu Jul 6 23:50:23 IST 2006

Margaret McGaley wrote:
> I've been thinking about how long it took us to get that press release 
> out. I think it's a shame that we were so late with it. I propose that 
> we start work on another release and plan to use it at an opportune 
> time (if the minister makes some kind of statement or something). I 
> think we should probably cover the following: VVAT (obviously), the 
> call for an electoral commission (in the CEV report, and in the CoE 
> code of good practice in electoral matters [1]), and the need for 
> in-depth cost/benefit analysis before any decision is made to go ahead 
> with the system.
> Thoughts?
Possibly a reference to the narrow terms of reference of the commission 
would have been useful - to highlight the fact that despite the narrow, 
technical terms of reference that the commission still preferred paper 

I don't think an electoral commission is a good idea - this would lead 
to a situation where the electoral commission would verify election 
results (possibly in secret) instead of those participating in the 
election (voters, parties, etc.). At present it is effectively the 
responsibility of candidates and their agents to monitor elections and 
ensure that the result is correct, and obviously there is no-one else 
with a greater interest in the result being accurate.

I think that ICTE should have a practical, workable, legal system of 
VVAT ready. The report states that ballot secrecy "includes the 
particular requirement that it must not be possible for the voter to 
prove how they have voted" and interprets this to mean that ballots 
should not be fully published. How would this requirement affect VVAT?  
I don't think it would be acceptable for a VVAT to be checked in secret 
by an electoral commission, which seems to be where the report is 
leading.  The report states P 180 that the Council of Europe requirement 
that the system be auditable does not require VVAT or a paper trail. It 
is not clear what "independent verification" as mentioned in the report 

Possibly, ICTE should call for candidates or their agents to be able to 
apply their own seal to ballot boxes (including any future VVAT ballot 
boxes) as is possible in Northern Ireland. This is more important for 
VVAT than for the current system because it is easy to print VVAT 
ballots while it is much more difficult to produce realistic-looking 
false ballot papers with different handwriting etc.

Should the ICTE have a position on returning officers (or their 
relations) personally profiting from the introduction of electronic 
voting? These are the sort of people that might be considered suitable 
to appoint to an electoral commission.

The report is technically incorrect to say  (P 152) that the Gregory 
system has not been introduced for European or local elections in 
"Ireland" - this is how elections are run in Northern Ireland, and the 
counts take approximately the same time as in the Republic. Should ICTE 
call for the Gregory system to be implemented for Dáil elections? It 
would make parallel running of elections possible, and it would mean 
that a full paper count should give exactly the same result as the 
computer system.

Possibly ICTE should highlight that the report shows that the 
Nedap-Powervote reduces the status of the voter - ( P 153 ) the voter is 
essentially an auditor of the system in that the voter can be certain of 
what was recorded when they placed their vote in the ballot box, and 
that the status of the voter should not be reduced. Democracy is about 
involving citizens in the running of the state, so voters should play a 
full part in the election process, instead of having to rely on others 
to ensure that the process is correct. (Perhaps a reference to Bertie's 
favourite book "Bowling Alone" might be useful - with paper voting (or 
VVAT) the voters are full participants in the election process, in that 
they are effectively a part of the audit process, but with 
Nedap-Powervote they are solitary marginalised figures, their audit role 
having been removed)


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