[E-voting] Irish Times Opinion piece by John Bowman favouring the manual count

Aengus Lawlor aengusl at eircom.net
Fri May 25 13:06:46 IST 2007

Traditional way of counting still best for elections

25/05/2007: John Bowman, who will anchor RTÉ television's election coverage, 
argues that manual voting is a unique opportunity to see democracy in 


Here are the concluding paragraphs:

Public confidence in e-voting has been severely dented. One man can take 
much of the credit, Joe McCarthy, the computer engineer to whom Irish 
democracy owes a special indebtedness for his forensic investigation into 
the electronic voting system piloted in three constituencies in 2002.

The Progressive Democrats voted at their 2006 annual conference to abandon 
electronic voting. Michael McDowell has admitted that he is not "mad keen" 
on it and has a personal preference for paper ballots. "I regard the paper 
system as having a lot of merit. People trust it and understand it, and 
watching extended counts on television is educational. These are all merits 
that shouldn't be forgotten."

No doubt there are many viewers who enjoy the drama - and blood-letting - of 
the election count more than the campaign: just as there are some who enjoy 
the count more than the songs in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Some would consider my arguments here as Luddite. But there are many matters 
in life where we do not take a utilitarian approach. We solemnise many 
events, marriages, funerals, presidential inaugurations, school 
prize-givings and many others with rituals which oblige us to take time and 
give due recognition to an important moment.

Is there not a strong case to be made that we should equally pay homage to 
the ritual of having one's vote counted - and to the important Irish variant 
of seeking to give that vote expression in later counts? Does this not 
deserve the nation's attention for 24 hours while the larger question at the 
heart of every election is in the balance: who governs next?

As Joe McCarthy has said: "The count is a public spectacle: the exercise of 
democracy shouldn't be a secret."


More information about the E-voting mailing list