[E-voting] questions about Irish election officials and

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Fri Oct 12 10:25:18 IST 2007

Something I've never understood (and never heard discussed)--I hope some 
knowledgeable ICTE folks will respond--

How are the various county election staff chosen?  Who appoints them?  
Are the rules different in each county?

In County Roscommon there is one official who actually runs the 
election, accepts the signatures of supporters of independent candidates 
and the initial candidate application papers.  This is the person who 
works with the team of candidates' representatives to examine the 
spoiled or disputed ballots during each count, and who has the final say 
in following the rules on whether a ballot can be accepted or not.  How 
is this person chosen, is it a lifelong position or can every new 
government appoint someone new?

There is another person who is legal (judge?)--the person who had to 
formally accept the candidate's papers.  I think (?) this person is the 
one who also formally certifies the winner.  How is this position 
filled?  Is it a lifelong position or can every new government appoint 
someone new?

Then there are the people doing the counting.  I think they are civil 
service staff--I believe they are seconded from their usual office jobs 
to do the counting, and so I assume they are paid for their time.  How 
are specific individuals are chosen?  Can members of the public can be 
considered for these positions?

I believe that public scrutiny of our elections is so tight (at least as 
long as we continue to use our hand-counting method with observation by 
party tallymen and members of the public), and with the ability to do as 
many recounts as necessary until every agrees,  and with the complete 
transparency as to the count from every single box, polling place, etc., 
that we don't tend to pay much attention to the people who are doing the 
actual counting.  However it would be interesting to understand more 
about this, particularly in terms of how it might or might not be open 
to political influence.

As I've said on several occasions, perhaps the biggest vulnerability 
with our current system is the transportation of the ballot boxes from 
the polling places to the count location.  Since the Gardai do this and 
are not supervised in any way during the process by candidate 
representatives or members of the public, this is where there is the 
potential for trouble.  Same for when they are stored overnight at the 
count centre before the count begins.  As there have been notable 
revelations about widespread corruption among the Gardai in some places, 
procedures for this area deserve a closer look if/when some form of 
Independent Election Commission is appointed.


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