An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, January 15, 2004  

Electronic Voting

From today's IT "Suppose, come election time, the Government was to employ a private company to bundle up all our paper votes, haul them off to an unknown location for counting in secret before emerging with just the final, unverifiable result. Would you be happy?, asks Kathy Sheridan.

I should think not. You might even see it as a war-like attack on our democracy. Well, the big news is that we are within six months of acquiescing to something not far off that.

The only difference is that the votes will no longer be paper and the secret counts will take place within computers. The computers will obey coded instructions, devised by fallible humans from a private company, specifically for the Republic (so therefore not tried and tested elsewhere). Yet their source codes will not be open to independent, specialist scrutiny because of commercial copyright. Furthermore, the count results produced by them will not be open to independent verification because, astonishingly, no such means of verification is built into the system."

I'm appalled by this whole electronic voting system. I'm a veteran of counts and the only reason people have faith in elections here is because members of the political parties can stand and watch votes being poured out of specific ballots boxes and watch the votes being counted. You can't get more a verifiable system than that. No one believes in anything any more and I don't think they are going to trust this system. OK, so once in a while there will be a long count, but with our current system everyone is happy at the end. With this one, if you lose a seat by a few votes will you?

Furthermore, the system of paper counting allows everyone to see lots of information beyond the result: the spread of votes in particular areas and the transfer patterns. This is information which is really useful for political practioners.

And as for voting remotely - the next stage ...what a nightmare. Just make personation and fraud much easier. People died and are dying for the right to vote. The least a citizen can do is show up at the polling booth.
Actually, the least a citizen can do is vote and nearly 50% don't bother. Make it a criminal offence I say.

posted by Sarah | 22:30 0 comments
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