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Irish e-voting furore hots up

Tanaiste weighs in to debate

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Mary Harney, Ireland's deputy prime minister, weighed into the fierce debate in Ireland surrounding e-voting yesterday, expressing some sympathy with opposition complaints about the proposed system.

The Irish government plans to roll out e-voting nationwide for June's local and European elections. Joint UK and Dutch partnership Powervote has been charged with providing a secure electronic voting system. Some of those opposed to the e-voting plan have voiced concerns about the closed-source nature of the chosen software system and about the lack of a physical paper trail in the proposed system.

Tanaiste Mary Harney made her comments following the tabling of a joint motion in the Dail, which is due for imminent debate. It calls on the government to immediately defer plans for the use of electronic voting in the European and local elections this summer.

The motion calls also for a suspension of any further related expenditure on the proposed system until an independent electoral commission has been established to address the concerns of political parties and the public on the issue.

"It looks as if there is some movement on the government side in the last few hours," a Fine Gael spokesperson told ElectricNews.Net in response to the Tanaiste's comment. "It is looking more positive than 12 hours ago, but we will just have to wait and see."

Meanwhile, a report dealing with the testing of voting machines - cited by minister for the environment, heritage & local government Martin Cullen - does not give any assurances that the Nedap machines are suitable for use in elections in Ireland, according to independent lobby group Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE).

The ICTE claims government reticence on the release of information relating to the introduction of e-voting is noticeable through the paucity of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

"In one case, over €1,200 of funds has been spent requesting documents under the FOI Act and appeals to the Information Commissioner, some of which are still on-going," noted ICTE representative Colm MacCarthaigh.

© ENN

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