Electronic Voting

Great spats over the electronic voting system about to be introduced in Ireland shortly. As far as I understand it, people are worried for two reasons. The new system no longer allows us to ‘spoil’ votes privately. We have a tradition of protest abstentions here, where you can write, for example, “No to warplanes refuelling at Shannon” on your ballot. You can also, if so inclined, indicate who you would have voted for before you got pissed off. Now, in order to abstain actively, you must notify a polling officer, who will switch off the machine and restart.

The other concern is that this system has no audit trail. No paper backup votes are printed for counting and it will be difficult to figure out if and when something goes wrong.

The proponents do not inspire confidence. On RTE’s Playback this morning, I listened in disbelief as the Taoiseach’s brother defended the new system. There would be no problems because these were not computers, he insisted. They were just machines. The baffled interviewer pressed him on this, to be told angrily that of course they weren’t computers, because they weren’t connected to the internet.

Well, that’s all right, then.

8 thoughts on “Electronic Voting”

  1. Interestingly, a former Fianna Fáil General Secretary has been given €5 million to promote this nonsense. I think the “machines” are being supplied by another party hack, but I don’t like to make too allegations on an unsecure “computer” (i.e. a machine connected to the dodgynet) It’s the usual bollocks. I can’t believe there hasn’t been a revolution. Nothing has changed in the minds of these fuchs.


  2. I’ve been involved marginally with this effort (the ICTE group).

    It’s been very heartening to see a very technical issue get picked up by the mass media. Even better is seeing the media take up ICTE’s FUD-debunking and using that to *understand* the issues — I had feared that the issue may be too technical for people without computer know-how, but it seems not — they’re really getting it.

    One great new thing I noticed in this campaign, is that some of the media outlets — NewsTalk 106, the Dublin talk radio station, for example — are actually taking part in the online discussion and tracking that closely. It’s very cool in terms of implications for online democracy.

    Of course, it looks like the govt are planning to steamroller this through, regardless. 😦


  3. No audit trail? Isn’t politics in Ireland corrupt enough, without providing such an easy means to right the election? Mind you, I (and everybody I asked) had a hard time citing clear, meaningful differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, so maybe nobody minds.

    Regardless, every voting Irish citizen should read this article before they go to the polls:



  4. One difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is that members of the former can be trusted, with one or two notable exceptions, to keep their fingers out of the till. And those who haven’t been able to were essential Fianna Fáil types born into the wrong political party. Also, there’s no pseudo socialist guff out of FG like there is from FF whose soi-disant “left wing” is fully composed of mercedes driving gombeen men.


  5. well, it depends what “in the till” means. i would say that the people who vote for Fine Gael have their finders very much in the till, albeit legally.

    Am I the only person to believe that the real crooks in Irish society are not in front of the tribunals but behind the benches, and representing the defendents?


  6. “Am I the only person to believe that the real crooks in Irish society are not in front of the tribunals but behind the benches, and representing the defendents?”

    As David Bowie said, you’re not alone. I believe the Competition Authority is after these dudes. While I’m sure it’s not your point, the army of small to middling business people who vote Fine Gael have literal fingers in literal tills as they count their licit earnings nightly. Objections to that constitute a different argument to objections to the underhand dealings which kept honest investors without our shores for so long. And objecting to them is another debate altogether.

    Bit of a rant on the law, voting etc. in Ireland in the comments to this post on Iraq – http://www.livingontheplanet.com/bl/archives/000091.html just scroll down.


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