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Ireland Scraps e-Voting

First published: 30th April 2009

Irish Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley has announced that it will be disposing of its e-voting machines, ending a scheme to introduce e-voting that was started in 2004. The equipment is a Dutch-designed Nedap/PowerVote system, which was criticised on the grounds of security, reliability and the lack of an audit trail. Gormley affirmed Ireland's preference for older technology, "the public in broad terms appear to be satisfied with the present paper-based system and we must recognise this in deciding on the future steps to be taken with the electronic voting system."

In 2004, the then-Taoseach Bertie Ahern strongly supported the modernisation scheme, "otherwise, this country will move into the 21st century being a laughing stock with our stupid old pencils." However, pencils have now won.

In general e-voting systems are introduced because politicians want to "improve" and "modernise" the process. Richard Kay pointed out the fallacy, "Attempts to reduce the cost and time of voting tend to be based upon the assumption that speed and cost reduction are more important than transparency - which couldn't be further from the reality."

Information Security experts generally point out many advantages of traditional technology for voting, Bruce Schneier has often discussed the difficulties involved in e-voting. Richard Kay commented on Ireland's U-turn, "Frankly I've never met anyone I respect with knowledge of my subject who would want to touch any e-voting system that doesn't involve a paper trail which can be confirmed manually at every stage of the process."

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