Critical report on Irish e-voting system released
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On 4 July 2006, the Commission on Electronic Voting released its second
report on the secrecy and accuracy of the e-voting system purchased by the
The summary remarks at the beginning of the 200 page report say: “The
Commission concludes that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment
of the chosen system for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further
work it has also recommended, but that it is unable to recommend the
election management software for such use.”
The “further work” referred to appears from the phrasing of the rest of the
introduction to be relatively minor, but a detailed reading of the report
reveals the extent of the changes required.
In order to comply with the “further work” that is a condition of the
commission’s recommendation of this system, the following changes (among
others) will have to be made:
1) add a voter verified audit trail;
2) replace the election management software (which prepares election data,
reads votes from “ballot modules”, and calculates results) with a version
that is developed to mission critical standards;
3) modify the embedded software within the voting machines to bring it up to
mission critical standard;
4) make certain modifications to the machines themselves;
5) test all components to mission critical standard;
6) modify the specification for the PC that is to be used for vote
7) test the system as a whole (including end-to-end testing) to mission
8) rectify the security vulnerabilities identified in the way data is
transferred within the system.
The minister responsible has indicated that he intends to continue with the
introduction of this system, but it is not clear that he recognises the
extent of the changes required by the report.
Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE) are pushing for a
comprehensive cost/benefit analysis to be carried out before any decision to
continue is made. The costs in terms of money and time will be considerable,
and they need to be calculated accurately before they can be compared to the
supposed benefits. ICTE is an independent group of over one hundred
concerned Citizens, IT & Security Practitioners, and Legal Professionals
calling for the introduction of a Voter Verified Audit Trail with any
E-voting system used in Ireland.
On a more positive note, it is certain that the system will not be used for
the next general election in Ireland, which will take place in early 2007.
The strength of criticism of this system from opposition parties here means
that if there is a change of government through that election this system
may finally be scrapped.
Commission on Electronic Voting – Second report on e-voting (07.2006)
Margaret McGaley – Articles on E-voting – Computer Science department of
National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE)
EDRi-gram : Irish government to test e-voting system (15.06.2006)
(Contribution by Margaret McGaley – spokesperson for ICTE)