Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Security Technology Your Rights Online

Ireland Rejects E-Voting for Upcoming Elections 192

colmmacc writes "Following months of lobbying by groups such as Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting and a damning and comprehensive report by Ireland's Commission on Electronic Voting, the Irish Minister for the Environment has bowed to pressure and conceded that the system has not been proven safe and has decided not to use Evoting for the forthcoming elections on June 11th.. This is a very welcome move following 6 months of indignation on the part of the Minister and refusals to meet with concerned groups."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ireland Rejects E-Voting for Upcoming Elections

Comments Filter:
  • Open Source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:05AM (#9018133) Homepage Journal
    > the Irish Minister for the Environment has bowed to pressure and conceded that the system has not been proven safe

    Well, until an Open Source Evoting system is available, and the kinks are flushed out, many closed source systems will keep trying to get this contract or that contract. The simple fact is, they should all be designing Internet voting using the Online Banking Model, and keeping the source code open so that it can be truly stress-tested and understood.
    • the Irish Minister for the Environment has bowed to pressure and conceded that the system has not been proven safe

      Unless the system ate somebody or gave someone herpes I'm not sure if it's accurate to say that it isn't safe. Perhaps he was looking for the word "reliable" ?
    • Re:Open Source? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:14AM (#9018226) Homepage Journal
      It should be noted that the commission didn't find any particular flaw that prevented them from recommending the system, but rather they felt they didn't have time to properly vet it:

      The Commission has identified and acknowledged the benefits of electronic voting and the fact that the selected system can accurately and consistently record voter preferences. It emphasises that its conclusion is not based on any finding that the present system will not work, but on the desirability of allowing time for further testing and quality assurance. The Commission makes detailed and valuable recommendations for the conduct of this further testing.
      • Re:Open Source? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lollipop17 ( 144134 )
        Yeah, I saw the story also on rte [www.rte.ie] where I get most of my irish news anyway (cos they don't have nasty registration and such) but decided to post the link as they have to link to related earlier stories on the subject that might prove useful.

        This was my favorite part of the story: "The Fine Gael Spokesman on the Environment, Bernard Allen, claimed Minister Cullen had tampered with the very essence of democracy and had wasted taxpayers' money.
        Mr Cullen rejected the claims but said today had not been a great

      • That may be what they published, but I think we are all very capable of reading between the lines.

        This reminds me of the famous finding of a UK tribunal that "the Minister had misdirected himself".

    • Re:Open Source? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcx101 ( 724235 )

      keeping the source code open so that it can be truly stress-tested and understood.

      Even Micro$oft provides source code to government users for security review. Other proprietary developers can do the same; it's not an advantage to use open source in this case.

      • Re:Open Source? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by modecx ( 130548 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:39AM (#9018521)
        No, Open Source's advantage in this case is so WE, and EVERYONE ESLE can understand who has pissed in the pool.

        Not to sound paranoid, but I'm not entirely trusting of *my* government to make sure everything is kosher. Shit, I'm sure some (government) people would rather have it very un-kosher if they had the choice.
        • Re:Open Source? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:26AM (#9019021) Homepage Journal
          No, Open Source's advantage in this case is so WE, and EVERYONE ESLE can understand who has pissed in the pool.

          You are deceiving yourself if you think access to the source mitigates this problem.

          Imagine: You go into a voting booth and face an e-vote machine. You have personally examined all the sources for this machine and, based on your perfect understanding of all things software, and the extensive amount of time you spent going over the 300+ source files (when you should have been paying attention to the issues) you have concluded that this one piece of software (unlike all others) actually is bug free.

          How exactly do you go about convincing yourself that the "Version 11.225b(build 1107 CERTIFIED)" printed in the bottom righthand corner came from the printf statement you recall reading on line 465 of assure.c and not from some PRINT "Version 11.225b(build 1107 CERTIFIED)" statement in the BASIC program some technician loaded onto the machine while you weren't looking?

          I suppose you could ask the machine. "Are you lying?"

          "No, Dave. I am a HAL 9000. No HAL 9000 has ever lied or distorted information...

          • Re:Open Source? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by modecx ( 130548 )
            No, absolutely, you've got a good point.

            I'm not a programmer (was a CS student at one point, but that was another world ago). I have no interest in programming, and I personally don't have the skillset. Therefore, I have no personal interest in examining the code on such a voting machine. However I do know that there are people out there who are interested thusly, and I would have to trust that thier examination was thorough, and I would also have to trust their honesty.

            The thing is, I would trust such
            • You're missing his point.

              Say that you can trust the open source community to expose any flaws in the voting system... It doesn't matter if you can't trust the government to actually deploy that software when it says that it does.

              That's his point.

              The only way to ensure that a vote was cast at all, let alone correctly, is to have some sort of physical redundancy. Something that can be counted by a bunch of humans.

    • Re:Open Source? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mindbooger ( 650932 )
      Online banking is decidedly _not_ anonymous, by design. Entirely different solution.
    • Re:Open Source? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:26AM (#9018381) Homepage
      So are we going to see some concerted work on an open source alternative.

      After all gnu.free [gnu.org]'s website says:

      On the 25th October 2002 The FREE e-democracy Project (who supported and organised GNU.FREE's development) formally stopped production and support of the GNU.FREE Internet voting system.

      Governments indicate they'd like a secure e-voting system. If the open source movement can't deliver one, we can bet a private closed source company will.

      • Re:Open Source? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by siriuskase ( 679431 )
        Not only must a voting system be secure, it must alwo be trustworthy. I don't see how any closed system would be subject to the verification required for the level of trust required. A closed system works only when the "secrets" are held by a completely trustworthy group of insiders.
        • Re:Open Source? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by monkeydo ( 173558 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @12:02PM (#9019430) Homepage
          It really, really, really, really, doesn't matter one whit whether or not the e-voting system is open or not. The "secrets" (i.e., what software is actually loaded on the machines) will always need to be held by some trusted group. The degree to which this group is tursted determinies how much influence they can have. In the paper ballot world, we mitigate risks by partition access that individuals have to ballots into small districts. In the e-voting world there will always be some group that has way to much access for their trust level. That's why e-voting will always be less secure than paper voting.
      • Re:Open Source? (Score:3, Insightful)

        So are we going to see some concerted work on an open source alternative.

        This doesn't sound like it's such an insurmountable open source project really. I mean, if you want to put your name on a project limited by only the sky, this seems like it. I mean, as far as the security design, that will take a security expert or two, but aside from that, isn't it a whole lot of busywork that amateur open-source programmers can probably handle? Is there a promising open-source eVoting project in development anywh

    • The report wrote "It has not been possible for the Commission to obtain access to the full source code of the system..."

      Yes, an open source solution automatically fulfil this requirement without fuss, and serve the needs to inspect, and gain electorate confident.

    • here [softimp.com.au]
    • It is still a computerized system that most users, myself included, have limited to no skills to verify. I have to trust others to tell me if it is safe or not. Others who could be bought or otherwise influenced to lie to me. Also so you build an OS system that I like. On election day how do I check out the machine? I doubt they will let me down it and examine it before I cast my vote. Ballot box tampering occurs all the time. How will this be any less prone to that?

      Give me a paper and a pencil and c
    • "be designing Internet voting using the Online Banking Model"

      Excepting for the obvious fact that online banking is predicated on rigorous identification of the user while the most basic tenet of voting is rigorous defense of the anonymity of the user. This is the fatal, pretty much unfixable, flaw in using the Internet to vote.

      Not having anonymity when you vote is all well and good in a kind and benevolent society. But as soon as the people in power can instill a little fear in the minds of voters that Bi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:06AM (#9018140)

    Evidence, at last!

  • E-voting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JosKarith ( 757063 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:10AM (#9018186)
    There is an absolute fortune waiting for the first company that can produce a reliable and secure e-voting system. So why do we see so many shoddy solutions that show their shortcomings the moment they go live?
    The technology is there. It just needs someone to say "Right, let's stop pissing about and actually make something that people can have a bit of faith in."
    • Re:E-voting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by banana fiend ( 611664 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:21AM (#9018319)
      I have to disagree with this

      It's not just a case of "stop pissing about" - you have to develop a system that is
      1)Unbelievably simple to use
      2)COMPLETELY secure
      3)Leaves a completely correct and permanent trail for recounting
      4)Relatively cheap to roll out

      Never mind that paper voting has never been all 3 above, a voting system has to be extremely good to be accepted by people who know the only true power we have over our government is our ability to vote for or against them.

      Systems with that kind of quality are NEVER easy to implement. Ask anybody who develops OS's used in Nuclear Power Plants. Or people who have to go through QA for mobile phone system control software

      • Re:E-voting (Score:2, Interesting)

        by JosKarith ( 757063 )
        >1)Unbelievably simple to use
        A UI consisting of a simple form displayed on a touchscreen, with a confirm/deny when a choice is made. Not too hard.
        2)COMPLETELY secure
        Physical security. No connection to other devices/internet. Stored data encrypted with a _different key_ for each machine so that if one is stolen the whole system isn't compromised.
        3)Leaves a completely correct and permanent trail for recounting
        Okay, this is the potential toughie. One possible solution is for an internally stored s
        • Have you seen governmental budget figures recently? Cheap is not an issue.

          That depends on which government you're looking at. I don't know if you're in the USA, or which state you live in if you are, but in my state, voting systems are purchased and funded by the local town or city, and they never have huge sums of money sitting around. Most state governments don't, either, for that matter. Uncle Sam may, but he's not the one buying the machines.
        • Re:E-voting (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Pxtl ( 151020 )
          Receipt is risky. If you give a person a receipt, then their spouse can beat them for voting for the wrong person. Better would be to write a generated "confirmation" number for each party and the user can jot down the number they actually voted for. The dummy confirmation numbers are actually the true number of a previous voter, so when the confirmation numbers and votes become public (to allow personal auditing) then a "fake" number that one gave to their spouse/boss/otherwise oppressor will appear as
    • Re:E-voting (Score:2, Interesting)

      by siriuskase ( 679431 )
      The more "security" features are incorporated, the less secure I feel. I used the butterfly system for decades, I felt secure. It's hard to move or remove a hole. The collating process is understandable. And, if necessary, the punch cards can be read with the human eye.

      Any algorithm that requires a phd in encryption science to understand will be unverifiable by the typical voter. If the mechanics of the system are not transparent, we will be handing over the cornerstone of our political system to an

    • Re:E-voting (Score:2, Interesting)

      by perelgut ( 124031 )
      The reason you don't see "Right, let's stop pissing about and actually make something..." is two-fold.

      First, there's the highly public nature of this beast - it has to be perfect and yet all forces combine to try and force it out at the earliest opportunity. And missing the earliest date is treated as a sign of systemic failure. In this case from Ireland, nobody says there are problems, just that there isn't enough evidence to convince the reviewers to a suitable degree of confidence that there won't be
  • by bendelo ( 737558 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:11AM (#9018194) Homepage
    You'll have some e-voting... are you sure you don't want any? Aw go on, you'll have some.
    Go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on GO ON!
  • interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spangineer ( 764167 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:14AM (#9018221) Homepage
    Pennsylvania's primary was just a few days ago, so I was thinking about this issue. I'm a college student at Penn State (30,000+ undergrads) and on day of the primary, I heard that about 100 people voted. Meanwhile, when we had elections earlier this year for student government, a much greater percentage of the student body voted (though not a majority). The difference? To vote in the student election, we simply had to log on to the internet to vote. For the "real" election, we had to go a central building on campus.

    I don't mean to say that convenience was the only consideration, because many students (myself included) used absentee ballots, but realistically, I think it's clear that many more students would vote if they were able to vote online. Online voting would probably greatly increase voter turnout throughout the U.S., simply because people wouldn't have to be late for work or skip lunch or whatever to head down to the polling place.

    Obviously, security is a major issue, but it's not like voter fraud is impossible under our current system. Realistically, if done properly, I think online voting would probably do more good for our elections than anything.
    • Is it not possible that many students were still registered at their principal domicile, and went home to vote (or voted absentee if the travel was onerous)?

      While I re-registered with my student address - so I could participate in elections that actually matter (Local) - many MANY students in the dorms voted at their permanent addresses.

    • Re:interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:28AM (#9018411) Journal
      Yes, but in the US voting is supposed to be anonymous. Meaning you could have the most controlling evil demended spouce in the world, and go vote for X and tell them that you voted for Y. With internet voting they can sit down with you and force you to vote for X. Of course this would be true of labor orginizations, many clubs, any any group that someone might belong to that would influence presure weither it be physical or mential pressure to vote the way they wanted.
    • Re:interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Wicked Priest ( 632846 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:31AM (#9018434)
      There's an easier way to make it so that people have time to vote, without the insecurity of online voting: Make election day a national holiday. It should be.

      Not that I'd count on increased turnout, even then. For that, we need more inspiring candidates in the races.
    • voter turnout (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John_Sauter ( 595980 )

      Online voting would probably greatly increase voter turnout throughout the U.S., simply because people wouldn't have to be late for work or skip lunch or whatever to head down to the polling place.

      I am not so sure that greater voter turnout would improve our government. Perhaps it is better that only those who are willing to be late for work or skip lunch vote. Perhaps that class of people do a better job of selecting our representatives.
      John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)

    • "To vote in the student election, we simply had to log on to the internet to vote."

      Did a geek, with long hair and a beard, always wears T shirts, win student body President?
  • Look and Learn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    if its not safe for them (perhaps indeed the whole concept is flawed), what makes you think its safe for YOU ?

    its a shame people have been convinced by institutions that somehow pressing a button on an electronic machine constitutes voting in a democracy, "yeah you did vote honestly, you can trust us"

  • A shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcx101 ( 724235 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:15AM (#9018231)

    We only just got the evoting system in Ireland and used it in the last election. It seems a shame to scrap it now. It's much faster and surely more accurate than counting by hand.

    Maybe all the lobbyists are the same people who lost their jobs as ballot counters ;-)

    • Re:A shame (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrMindWarp ( 663427 )
      We only just got the evoting system in Ireland and used it in the last election. It seems a shame to scrap it now. It's much faster and surely more accurate than counting by hand

      The system was only piloted in a few areas during the last election and even those pilots were flawed.

      You should read the report before making any comments about the accuracy of the count. If the Commission don't think it is accurate, how can you suggest it is ?

      Without VVAT there is no known accuracy.

      • Re:A shame (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcx101 ( 724235 )

        The system was only piloted in a few areas during the last election and even those pilots were flawed.

        It was piloted in my constituency.

        You should read the report before making any comments about the accuracy of the count. If the Commission don't think it is accurate, how can you suggest it is ?

        Are you just trolling? Why don't you RTFA. That's not what they said at all:

        On the basis of its review of expert reports, submissions received and other relevant information to date, the Commission fin

    • C'mon, how's e-voting going to replace the week-long entertainment that re-iterates how hilarious democracy is?

      Although the NI Assembly elections are nearly more fun, throw in a good dose of sectarianism into the PR-STV system. Woohoo, get the popcorn!

      (Sorry, to clarify, democracy seems to work best and is much, much, nicer than, oh, dictatorships, Soviet Russia, etc. But Irish democracy is, well, a bunch of chancers combined with a bunch of ineffectual wellwishers.)

      Boy have I used up my cynicism quota f
  • Woohoo! Yes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:15AM (#9018237) Homepage

    This is great, I wrote a couple of articles in the newspapers about it myself here... Thank god is all I can say. I have nothing against modernisation of voting systems, but there has to be some kind of accountability, and the government was going ahead without either a paper trail or a poll...

    Hopefully we'll see a little more open source code too...

  • Paper trail (Score:3, Informative)

    by aaronmcdaid ( 771190 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:16AM (#9018261) Journal
    AFAIK, the proposed electronic voting system in Ireland was going to have a paper trail. The voter would be given a printout which would be put in a ballot box and used for recounts.

    As an Irish person myself, I should have found out for sure what the situation was! Can someone confirm or deny this?

    All I know for sure is that they weren't considering Diebold. The system was called Nedap or something.

    Either way though, I'm against any electronic voting.
    • Re:Paper trail (Score:2, Informative)

      by DrMindWarp ( 663427 )
      AFAIK, the proposed electronic voting system in Ireland was going to have a paper trail. The voter would be given a printout which would be put in a ballot box and used for recounts.

      Wrong! How can you be so badly misinformed ?

      Check out the ICTE [cs.may.ie] for all you need to know.

    • AFAIK there was not going to be a paper trail. I think this is essentially why this failed.
      Honestly, with a paper trail I would not have too many problems with e voting.
      BUT, I want to give the code to some hard ass independent formal methods/Z/VDM/all-that-scary-stuff boys and girls before I am happy using it.
      There are plenty of good guys around in Irish Universities.
    • The system was called Nedap or something.

      Nedap [nedap.nl] is a Dutch company, that provides voting machines [nedapspecials.com] for the Dutch elections as well. By the way, these do not provide a paper trail, at least not the version used in the Netherlands.

      Electronic voting has recently come under attack in the Netherlands as well. A number of parties say there is not enough accountability and auditing possible with this system. Funny how it's the left-wing parties questioning e-voting; you'd think they were the ones with a lot

    • Re:Paper trail (Score:5, Informative)

      by ectoraige ( 123390 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @12:11PM (#9019551) Homepage
      As another Irish person, please find out, and complain loudly! :)

      First off, The system was called Nedap/Powervote, Nedap [nedap.nl] is a company based in the Netherlands.

      Secondly, there was not going to be any paper trail, and this was one of the main reasons for objections. Most of the objectors agreed in principle with the concept of electronic voting, but not the Nedap implementation.

      There are obstacles to having a paper trail due to the quirks of our system of voting, which I'll try to explain.

      In Ireland, we use a particular method of proportional representation (PR) known as Proportional Representation through the Single Transferable Vote [wikipedia.org] (PR-STV), and we use this in a multi-candidate election.

      What this means is that the voter marks his preference 1,2,3 etc, and more than one candidate can be elected per voting area.

      A quota of votes establishes how many votes a candidate requires to be elected.

      When a candidate is elected, the excess (no. of votes over the quota) is transferred to other candidates in another round of voting, according to the next preferences indicated on the ballot.

      Now in Ireland, we do this by taking a random sample of those votes, and distributing those next preferences proportionally. This causes a problem with using a paper trail, as you cannot guarantee that the random sample you pick in your manual count is the same random sample chosen by the computer.

      This also means that your vote may not actually be counted as such - you second preference may only be counted in the statistical sense.

      Ideally, you would count each vote in each round of voting - however, with Irish elections often going to 7/8 rounds of voting, it was considered too time consuming to do this in general elections. It's a close enough compromise, and means we can usually get the results within 24 hours or so.

      E-voting offered an opportunity to change this, and to count each and every transfer. However, the government screwed up, and ruled this out, effectively ruling out an independent paper trail.

      Incidentally, €40 million was spent so far by the Irish government, and this is the best they could come up with.

      Is there any reason you are against e-voting in principle? Given that you admit to not being aware of the situation, I'm guessing this is not a considered viewpoint, one which you should consider.
  • by Jack Wagner ( 444727 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:17AM (#9018263) Homepage Journal
    We can send a friggin space shuttle to outer space and back but we can't make a secure e-voting machine???? How hard is that????

    Well, at least we've got the "free porn on the Internet" technology all worked out.

    • A space shuttle represents money already stolen. A voting machine represents how money will be stolen. Since future theft of money is always a highly contentious topic, hence these electronic/computerized voting machines are configured to let the debate happen between the two parties of thieves. Thus, they are not secure machines; security will just squelch the debate and allow voting, and giving the voter the franchise was never popular among the thieves.

  • The candidates have a soccer game.

    The side with the most fans left standing wins.

  • by The Wicked Priest ( 632846 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:21AM (#9018316)
    Why are elections under the jurisdiction of the Minsiter for the Environment?
  • Surely not (Score:1, Funny)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 )
    The wishes of the people does not come before the need to reduce the cost of running elections!
  • Victory!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pablo El Vagabundo ( 775863 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:26AM (#9018383)
    I emailed the minister about this ages ago. I wanted a paper trail for this new e-voting system he was introducing. Some of the Irish ministers are great an will email you personnally.

    Dear ould Martin, however, got a lackey to email me a ref number. That was the last I heard.

    Serves him right!! This is a good thing for e-voting. Maybe they will address the concerns and implement a safe,secure system (that allows us to spoil our votes).

    Pablo El Vagabyundo

  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:29AM (#9018418) Homepage Journal

    I still assert that for the most part e-voting is a solution in search of a problem.

    While there were serious discrepancies in Florida in the US 2000 Presidential Election[1], the solution to that problem is to go to a fundamentally simpler system, not one wrought with complexity.

    Everyone agrees that election systems have to be accurate, tamper-proof, easy to use for both voters and polling-place officials, accessible to all voters (including the blind), and auditable. Those requirements are tough to meet, but an additional requirement is the killer: anonymity. A recorded ballot cannot be traced back to an individual voter, nor can a voter be able to use a ballot to obtain payment for a vote. Says David Dill, a Stanford computer scientist: "Unlike almost any other application, voting systems must discard critical information."

    1: Do not think for one minute they were partisan - I think it was just luck of the draw that Gore lost - and had the results been the opposite, we would have heard precisely the same level of whining from the Republican camp that we heard from the Democrats.

    • I remember reading in the November 2003 issue of Popular Science that the best solution so far is something akin to a Scantron sheet--you need some sort of marker (pencil, pen, ink stamp, etc.) to fill in spaces on the voting ballot.

      Such a ballot has the advantages of 1) a full paper trail of the ballot and 2) the ability to easily do both machine and hand counts on a stack of ballots. That way, we don't have to worry about "hanging chads" or "dimpleed chads," the big issues with punch card ballots.
  • E-voting (Score:5, Informative)

    by farmerj ( 566229 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:33AM (#9018460)
    E-voting in Ireland has caused much controversy in the last 6 months or so. The main objection to the system proposed for use in the European and local elections are that there is no paper trail for validation. The Irish Labour Party [labour.ie] Published a report [labour.ie] at the end of 2003 about the proposed system to be used in Ireland and the flaws in that system. All of the Irish political parties are for e-voting in principal; the main advantage from their point of view is that the long wait through numerous rounds of counts would be eliminated during the counting process. The long manual counting procedure is due the proportional representation [fairvote.org] voting system used in Ireland.
  • by toesate ( 652111 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:42AM (#9018545) Homepage Journal
    I think two of the important requirements in any voting process is the need for proof of presence and proof of intention.

    In e-voting, proof of presence could be possible/feasible.

    But proof of intention in e-voting is, I think a hard nut. In a physical voting/polling booth, each voter is on their own, to make up their mind and choice, with minimal outside influence, in a so call "holy ground", making a vote untaint from intention. In e-voting, the voting act can take place anywhere, and possibly subjected to a lot of outside influences, and tainting the voter intention.

    I am assuming(might be wrong) e-voting means the ability to vote from anywhere with internet access. It is not clear from the report.

    • You are wrong.

      The 'e' component refers to 'electronic', not 'exposed to the internet', or 'easily connected to through use of TCP/IP', not even 'evidently we do not know what e stands for, but we like to think it stands for Internet'.

      Just like e-mail is electronic mail.

      It's an easy mistake to make, tellingly though it was a mistake also made by the Minister responsible.

      He stated that he did not consider the system to be 'e-voting' as it was not connected to the internet, and suggested people were callin
  • E-voting (Score:3, Funny)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @10:48AM (#9018628) Homepage Journal
    Luckily the Irish were given a chance to vote on this issue, with 543,490,234 against and only 38 for electronic voting.
  • Quick background (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aecolley ( 467094 ) <aecolley@gmai l . c om> on Friday April 30, 2004 @11:25AM (#9019001) Homepage Journal

    The system proposed for use in Ireland and dismissed by the Commission's report today is the Nedap/Powervote system, variants of which are used in the Netherlands and parts of Germany. It's a kiosk-based DRE system which uses glorified memory sticks to store ballot records. It was developed in apparent ignorance of the voter-verification requirement [notablesoftware.com].

    Because the developers used the waterfall method, and didn't find out about the audit requirement until customer acceptance testing, they baulked at the idea of going back to the drawing board, and instead bolted on a useless printout-of-ballot-module-contents facility, and called it an audit trail.

    Their salesmen are very good, and the Irish Government agreed to buy the system (total cost over 40 million euros) at the height of the Florida debacle in late 2000. Since then there have been reports, objections, and all manner of outcry from IT professionals in Ireland. Even the entire Opposition (elected politicians not belonging to the ruling coalition) opposed the system. The Government maintained a constant mantra: the system is accurate, the system is thoroughly tested, you're all a bunch of Luddites for thinking differently. Eventually the Irish Computer Society joined in [www.ics.ie], and the Minister promptly accused them [www.iol.ie] of being a front for the anti-globalisation movement.

    The writing then being on the wall, the Government then appointed an independent Commission to examine the system and its testing, hoping for a graceful way out of the political corner. The Commission's report, however, is rather more damning than they hoped. In my personal opinion, this has more than a little to do with the fact that noted software expert David Parnas assisted the Commission, and he's a good deal more methodical and careful than Nedap/Powervote seem to have been.


  • lots of background info available at http://www.electronicvoting.ie/english/download.ht ml [electronicvoting.ie]
    seems there are 2 levels of testing

    1- does the 'box' on the day record all data correctly ?
    2- does the software that later analyses that data and declares the winners work correctly ?

    seems they focused mostly on the later

    interesting bits...
    "Given the developer's postponement of implementing referential integrity in the database....."
    "..uses Access97.." _nuff said_

    I may actually vote now
  • by FrankDrebin ( 238464 ) on Friday April 30, 2004 @12:11PM (#9019543) Homepage

    (for North Americans) Repeat the following words, quickly slurring them together:

    whale oil beef hooked

  • Not to be trollish, but.. for all the India-talk on /. of late, I'm surprised nobody mentioned anything about the all-electronic voting for the general elections in India. ( still 2 more phases to go out of 5 phases!). We seem to have got it right w.r.t voting machines. And YES, voting day is a holiday in India, and the average turnout has been high ( 50% plus) in most parts, despite the summer heat. Temp. nearing 100 deg. F ( mid- 30 deg. C for the rest of the world)
  • I think they got really suspicious when the voting machines kept on electing George W Bush to office, even though he wasnt on the ballot. Some voting machines intended for Florida accidently got shipped to Dublin.
  • Alternative System (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I live in Ireland an I can tell you that the government over here is pretty bad. Ineffective, unpopular and VERY corrupt. Former prime ministers buying islands and having offshore accounts sort of thing(I'm very serious)

    Basically the government here is that new kind of "low taxes and more public services!!" type scam that constantly gets re-elected. Electronic voting was brought in, just to save money. No other reason.

    Unfortunatly due to a COMPLETE lack of tech savvy the system will likly be a botch up. I
  • Why is it so hard to make a secure e-voting system? I mean, it's basically just a glorified counter.

    The way I see it, the machines could easily be set up like this:

    - All the machines are on some secure network with extremely limited outside access. This is really the hardest part of the whole arrangement. But with encryption and a physically secure central management system this can surely be made secure enough. Security technology is good enough to do just about anything else online.

    - The voting machine

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings