E-Voting: Would you like more of this?

Colm MacCárthaigh gives an overview of the timeline of events surrounding the evoting fiasco.

Here’s an interesting snippit. We come in just as the Oireachtas has formed a committee to look into concerns about evoting.

At the first meeting, on December 10, Margaret McGaley and Shane Hogan made clear to fundamental and undeniable problems with the system. Such was the extent of the concern, the committee actually wrote to the Minister, asking that no money be spent on the system until there was time to further investigate the problems. Members of the committee (including Government party members) were interviewed on National Radio over the next few days, and voiced their concerns.

But just one week later, at the meeting of the December 18th it became apparent that the Department and the Minister’s interest had been awoken. Niall Callan had been drawn in from the Department and had brought along representatives of the manufacturers with him. Joe McCarthy, a chartered engineer, Fellow of the Irish Computing Society, and security expert was now also invited to outline his serious concerns with the system.

Apparantly the manufacturers had a very convincing presentation, because after going into private session the committee voted (along party lines, and with the support of Mildred Fox) to reverse their previous position and now support the position of the Minister. The contract, committing the Irish public to 40 or so million euro of expenditure, with no recourse to refund, was signed within the 24 hours.

After expert opinion, making plainly clear that the system would not, and could not work as required, Minister Martin Cullen, with the help of TD’s John Cregan, Noel Grealish, Michael Moynihan, Mildred Fox, Billy Keleher, John Moloney, Sean Power and Senators Michael Brennan and John Dardis, authorised the signing of the ridiculous contract (the utterly inept drafting of which is its own seperate problem) which got us into this whole mess. That Martin Cullen remains in office despite this, should be a source of shame for this nation.

The software the government were so eager to buy was examined by the Commission on Electronic Voting in their most recent report.
They found;

The security of the hardened PC that is proposed for use in preparing elections and in aggregating and counting the votes afterwards is inadequate… Improvements are also required to the security of the methods by which sensitive election data, including votes, are stored, transported and accessed on ballot modules and CDs.

Without the efforts of the ICTE, among others, we would be using this system in our elections now. We owe them a debt of thanks for their efforts, and the risks they were willing to run to keep the basic unit of democracy -our votes- trustworthy.

The government has never admitted they were wrong on this issue.

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