[E-voting] Today's Irish Times

Margaret McGaley mmcgaley at cs.nuim.ie
Fri Jul 7 09:43:54 IST 2006


Eh, did Nedap just shoot themselves in the foot?

Margaret


Keith Martin wrote:

> From today's Irish Times:
>
> E-voting company warns of cost of modifying all 7,500 machines
>
> Liam Reid and Eithne Donnellan
> 07/07/2006
>
> The manufacturers of the State's electronic voting machines have  
> warned that all 7,500 voting machines would have to undergo  
> significant work at an unknown cost if the recommendations of the  
> Commission on Electronic Voting are to be implemented.
>
> The Government has suggested that the recommendations relating to the  
> voting machines would require minor work.
>
> Similar work to that suggested in the report cost nearly ?2,500 per  
> machine during an upgrade of 1,000 of the machines three years ago,  
> although no estimate has been given on the cost of the current work.
>
> This work would be in addition to the replacement of vote-counting  
> software on the central PCs in the system, which the commission found  
> to be substandard, and which could cost between ?3 million and ?5  
> million.
>
> The report, published last Tuesday, said the machines were of "good  
> quality and design" but that changes to their controls and bodywork  
> were needed to make them more secure and easier to use. It also  
> advised modifications to the software in the machines.
>
> Henk Steentjes, chief technical officer of Nedap, the Dutch company  
> that made the system, said a cost could not be put on the work  
> required, but that it could be significant, because every machine  
> would have to be changed.
>
> "There is a magnifying factor, even with a small change," he said.  
> "You have [ more than] 7,000 identical machines, these are 
> stand-alone  units, and any change that is made has to be made 7,000 
> times."
>
> Changes to the software require technicians to open each machine,  
> remove the existing software and replace it with the updated version.
>
> "You then have to go through a very thorough test of the software," 
> Mr  Steentjes said.
>
> The recommendations to change the user controls on the machines, and  
> to make the machines easier to identify as being genuine e-voting  
> machines, would also require the same type of complex process, he said.
>
> "In its conclusions, the commission says the security issues [  
> relating to the machines] are of a minor importance, so the cost of  
> any changes has to be seen against that and against the money already  
> invested, and I hope people will take a balanced view," Mr Steentjes  
> said.
>
> The system has cost ?52 million to date, ?46 million of which was  
> spent on the machines.
>
> Meanwhile, Tánaiste Mary Harney has said she was in strong agreement  
> with the commission's recommendation for an independent electoral  
> commission.
>
> "I think how elections are organised should not be a matter for the  
> government of the day or the political system. It should be done on 
> an  independent basis."
>
>
> © The Irish Times
>
>
>
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