Tuesday 19 March 2019

E-voting plans hit by decision in Dutch court

THE prospect of the State's 6,000 e-voting machines ever being used has receded even further after a Dutch judge declared their use in Holland illegal.

They are currently being stored at an army hangar in Co Meath and in rented locations around the country at an annual cost of over €700,000. However, a Dutch judge has ruled that the e-voting machines used in his country's November and March elections were not adequately authorised and that at least one type of machine was not certified. The machines were manufactured by Nedap, the same company which won the Irish e-voting contract.

Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan said the decision was a clear indication of the ineptitude of the Government on the e-voting project. "The waste of €60m of public money on the machines is an indication of gross incompetence by Ministers Dempsey, Cullen and Roche in dealing with these matters over the years."

He said that the Government's failed attempt to introduce the machines without the verification of the citizens' vote smacked of a totalitarian regime.

"I am calling on Environment Minister John Gormley to scrap the machines immediately."

The case was brought by a Dutch political action group, "We Don't Trust Voting Computers," which had highlighted how many Dutch e-voting machines could be hacked into electronically from 20 to 30 metres away. Future Dutch elections will now be held using the traditional pencil and ballot paper method, until more secure machines are developed.

Nedap, which plans to develop a new generation of e-voting machines, told the Register.co.uk techonology site that the Dutch court decision would not affect its business.

The Department of Environment confirmed that plans to use the e-voting machines had not been abandoned.

"The minister has already indicated on the record of the House that he is at present considering the next steps to be taken in relation to the electronic voting and counting project," a spokesman said.

Most of the 6,000 machines are being stored in purpose-built containers in a hangar at the Army's base in Gormanstown, Co Meath. However, the containers are not big enough to store the tables for the machines and they are being stored separately in the hangar.

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