Saturday 25 November 2017

Minister calls for e-voting return despite €54m fiasco

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

A CABINET minister wants e-voting back on the table – two years after the Government sold off the machines.

Electronic voting was mothballed a decade ago amid concerns about the verification process and after €54m was spent on the equipment.

As the counting of votes from the European elections enters a sixth day, Childrens Minister Charlie Flanagan has complained about the length of time results are taking.

"Counting is taking far too long. Electronic voting must be returned to the political agenda," he said.

The machines were sold off by the Government after being in storage for eight years.

A recount in the Ireland Midlands-North-West constituency is expected to take another day.

Sitting MEPs Marian Harkin and Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher were separated by just a few thousand votes at the end of a marathon count.

Ms Harkin took the final seat but Mr Gallagher sought a recheck.

E-voting was used on an experimental basis in three constituencies in the 2002 General Election.

But the move was best remembered for former Fine Gael minister Nora Owen being told she had lost her seat as the results were abruptly announced.

Concerns arose subsequently about the reliability of the machines and the verification process for counting the votes.


Following a report by an independent commission, the then government put the national rollout of the system on hold ahead of the 2004 local and European elections.

Two years ago, Environment Minister Phil Hogan announced the e-voting equipment had been disposed of.

"From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55m," Mr Hogan said at the time.

"While this is a scandalous waste of public money, I am happy to say that we will not incur any further costs in the disposal of the machines. KMK Metals Recycling will pay €70,267 for all of the equipment," he added.

Irish Independent

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