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E-voting ruled out in favour of 'blood sport' counts

  

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Ireland's ill-fated foray into attempting to introduce electronic voting will not be repeated, the minister leading the charge on electoral reform has said.

Junior minister John Paul Phelan ruled out the introduction of e-voting.

In 2002, the Fianna Fáil-led government bought e-voting machines at a cost of more than €50m - but they were consigned to storage when a commission ruled that due to a lack of paper trail and concerns over potential security issues they could not be used. They were sold off a decade later for just €70,000.

"The problem is what happened here previously is that it ran the risk of undermining people's confidence in the process and there is no prospect in the short to medium term of the pencil and ballot paper being removed," Mr Phelan said, adding he would rule out the introduction of the machines even in the "semi-long term".

"Because it's a comfort to candidates, particularly the ones who lose, to physically see yourself losing," he said, adding it was "equally important for the punter".

Watching votes being tallied by staff in count centres also plays a part in the electoral process, he said.

"There is also the blood sport aspect of politics that Irish people genuinely have an interest in the count...It's democracy in front of your eyes."

A Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government official pointed out most countries who had experimented with electronic voting had rolled back.

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