8 April 2004 Edition

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Electronic voting system flawed

The electronic voting system the 26-County Government is planning to use for the local and EU elections on 11 June is flawed and should be either radically changed or withdrawn. So said Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin during the debate on legislation to provide for electronic voting.

"A fundamental change in the way in which elections are conducted should only be undertaken with consensus support across the political spectrum and from among the general public. Electronic voting, as provided for in this Bill, does not enjoy such support," said Ó Caoláin. He said the Bill should be withdrawn and the government should not proceed with electronic voting in the manner proposed. He told the Dáil: "The bottom line is that a verifiable paper trail is needed. Serious and fundamental concerns have emerged. These centre chiefly on the design and security of the system itself. Sinn Féin spokespeople were among the first to raise these concerns and to call for transparency in the design of the system and a paper trail to verify the voter's choice.

"What heightened concern and justified everything that was said about the system was the manner in which the government responded. For months it refused to clarify the legal basis on which the system would be introduced. It claimed that legislation such as that now being discussed in this Bill, was not necessary and proposed to introduce electronic voting by ministerial order, leaving the elections open — as we contended — to legal challenge. After repeated questioning and probing inside and outside this House by all of the Opposition voices, the government finally acknowledged the need for legislation. With less than 12 weeks to go before the elections, we have been presented with this Bill. It is a debacle and all too sadly typical of this government."


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