Friday 23 August 2019

E-voting not the way to tackle recounts, say Greens

Change: Eamon Ryan said the ballot paper was a problem. Photo: Damien Eagers
Change: Eamon Ryan said the ballot paper was a problem. Photo: Damien Eagers
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan does not believe electronic voting is the way to avoid lengthy recounts in the future - but does argue some change is needed.

The mammoth task of recounting 750,000 ballot papers in the Ireland South constituency begins today.

Based on the original count, Mr Ryan's colleague Grace O'Sullivan is 326 votes ahead of Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada.

Yesterday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan described the fact the recount could take 28 days as "intolerable".

He suggested it is time to "revisit" e-voting. Ireland piloted a system in the 2002 general election but 75,000 machines were subsequently scrapped amid fears over security.

"Coming up to the 20th anniversary of the electronic voting debacle, I think we should revisit it," Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent.

Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher, who reached the quota in the original count, has made a similar call.

However, Mr Ryan said the situation in Ireland South alone should is not reason enough to try electronic voting again.

"I think there was valid concern around it. People like to watch and see the votes being counted," he said.

The Dublin TD said the focus should be on the length of the ballot paper, which had 23 names and was 2ft long.

"There's no doubt Ireland South was difficult because of the length of the ballot paper. We should look at means of trying to avoid such huge ballot papers in future," Mr Ryan said.

He noted that as things stand there could have been "33 or even 43" names on the ballot paper.

"Maybe it is a matter of asking for more signatures [to qualify as a candidate]," he said.

Mr Flanagan wants the new electoral commission to review international best practice in the area. "These could include a paper/electronic hybrid," he said.

The minister added that technology has advanced dramatically since the "very bad experience" with e-voting.

Irish Independent

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