Aftermath Of Failed Electronic Voting

Slashdot are pointing to a story in the CS Monitor and NPR concerning electronic voting:


A combination of human error (setting the machine to record a maximum of three thousand votes when eight thousand people voted) and a software malfunction (the machine kept accepting ballots after its memory was overloaded) resulted in the loss of 4,500 votes in an election decided by only 2,300 votes.

2004 Election Weirdness Continues

Alot of these stories have been discounted of late, but still worth a look at with regard to the whole subject of e-voting.

I’ve read dozens of submissions about election anomalies in the last week and they show no sign of slowing so I’ve decided to post a few of the main ones here to let you all discuss them. The first is the Common Dreams report that shows that optically scanned votes have a strange anomoly in florida: the Touchscreen counties roughly matched up to party registration numbers, but optically scanned paper ballot counties showed strangeness like one county where 69.3% registered democrat, but only 28% of them voted for Kerry. Palm Beach County, Florida logged 88,000 more votes than there were voters; that machines in LaPorte, Indiana discounted 50,000 voters; in Columbus, Ohio voting machines gave Bush an extra 4,000 votes; in Broward County, Florida voting machines were counting backwards; Lastly, precincts in New Mexico gave provisional ballots that will never be counted to as many as 10% of all their voters.

The Week in Politics

Blogging has been light, I was in Dublin on Saturday night to visit some old friends and to attend a party with the folks from Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-voting.

The lads from RTE’s Week in Politics were there, doing a piece on Cullen’s climbdown. We had some cake, some champagne, and Joe McCarthy made an excellent speech on the success of ICTE thus far, and the hard work ahead. I was on the telly for a brief few seconds, there were also brief interviews with Margaret McGaley and Joe McCarthy.

All very nice people – I look forward to meeting them all again. I will be supporting the ICTE in any way I can.

Martin Cullen on Primetime

Martin Cullen just spent 5 minutes on Primetime, more or less saying that he should get the credit for the decision of the Commission on Electronic Voting.

He did so many somersaults and back flips in the interview I found it hard to keep track. I will be transcribing the whole thing as soon as it becomes available online.

I think I may have spotted several glaringinly obvious waffle-speak/lies/horseshit during the interview too.

E-voting climbdown

What a great day, to my absolute surprise the Commission on Electronic Voting has decided that the system is not reliable or secure. Martin Cullen featured on the News At One, and refused to resign over the issue. He brands himself an ‘innovator’ and tries to spin it so the whole thing does not sound like a mess.

In reality it demonstrates the sheer incompetence, arrogance and stupidity of the Fianna Fail/PD government.

I am delighted, and oh look the Electronic Voting website is down.

Great. Read the full report here.

Update: Wohoo! It’s been Slashdotted.

Lies, votes and Martin Cullen: What is the government up to?

I’ve had it. The Irish government’s position on e-voting is absolutely untenable. The more I read of the what the government believes, the more vehement in opposing it I become. The international media, and indeed the online community has thus far failed to notice the huge issues involved in the debate in Ireland.

The people:
Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen (Fianna Fail), responsible for implementation of electronic voting.

The organisations:
Fianna Fail (Biggest political party, in power now)
Irish Citizens for Trustworthy e-Voting, lobbying for a paper trail – at least.
Fine Gael – opposition party
Nedap/Powervote – the company making the machines. (A system that claims to be 100% accurate)

To my knowledge, Ireland will be the first country to introduce a total electronic voting system with absolutely no means of verification. And for my international audience here are some shocking facts about how electronic voting was introduced:

1. There was no independent Electoral Commission to decide on a system. This meant that the government in power decided to change the entire Irish electoral system, without reference to anybody.

2. The Minister responsible for the initial introduction of e-voting, and the Minister reponsible for the implementation of e-voting, are both former and present Directors of Elections for the political party currently in power (Fianna Fail). The conflict of interest issues here are obvious.

3. The PR consortium chosen to market the new system has dubious connections with Fianna Fail. A company of the consortium is run by a former Fianna Fail general secretary Martin Macken, and a former adviser to the current Prime Minister, Jackie Gallagher. Added to that, the former election manager of Martin Cullen, Monica Leech, sat on the panel that awarded the €4.5m contract to the consortium.

4. The Minister responsible has consistently ignored expert technical advice, and repeatedly claimed that the system being implemented has been fully tested. He has claimed that there are no working examples of a verifiable paper trail in the world. He has refused to accept that a paper trail might be needed. Oh and he lied, and lied, and lied. Keep scrolling.

If this happened in any other country, there would be a revolution.

You can listen to Martin being interviewed here. Its in the last 35 minutes of the show.

Furthermore, here is a parliament debate from yesterday:

Mr. Allen: How can the Minister reconcile his bluster regarding the
technological strength of the system with the statement released
yesterday by the Irish Computer Society – which is the policy committee
– and its chief executive for software engineering who said that any
electronic voting system must include a paper-based voter verified
audit trail because it is the only way to prove or disprove the accuracy
of the electronic count? How does the Minister match that statement from
the Irish Computer Society with the Brazilian experience?

If the Minister is so strong in his belief in the technological strength
of the system, will he tell me how the software will address the
petitions function and how it will be applied in the case of a court
challenge to an electoral decision? Will he give me a straight answer to
that question? The Minister should put aside his bluster about the
strength of the system because he is on shaky technological ground. He
is creating a crisis of confidence in the electoral system which can
only be put right by the Government admitting that some major
outstanding questions have not yet been answered.

Mr. Cullen: If Deputy Allen wants to align himself with the group
that held the press conference yesterday, that is fine.

Mr. Allen: My questions have nothing to do with the group.

Mr. Cullen: The Deputy specifically asked me about the group.

Mr. Allen: The Minister should not misrepresent me. I said the Irish
Computer Society.

Mr. Cullen: I disagree with the group. It is talking about two
completely different systems. It is not commenting on this one. Let us
be clear – this is also a matter for the Fine Gael and Labour parties.
The group is opposed to all forms of electronic voting.

Mr. Allen: I asked the Minister a question; I did not ask about the
group.

Mr. Cullen: I am answering it. If the Deputy wants the information,
I will give it to him but he should, please, allow me to answer.

Mr. Allen: Will the Minister answer the question I asked?

Mr. Cullen: The Deputy did this the last day also. If he wants me to
respond, I will.

Mr. Allen: To the question I asked.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order, please.

Mr. Cullen: These are the points I want to make. The group is not
dealing with the system about which we are talking. If it wants to deal
with a paper trail system, of which there is none anywhere in the world
– the Deputy referred to Brazil, on which I commented directly

If you need an example of political waffle/bluster/bullshit, whatever you want to call it, this is it.
Continue reading “Lies, votes and Martin Cullen: What is the government up to?”