Serious Inconsistencies Uncovered in E-Voting Pilot Votes (NEDAP Powervote)
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By Colm MacCarthaigh, Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting
July 14, 2005
Link to 04-04 Press Release
Documentation released under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act ,
, ,  reveals that there were serious inconsistencies with the
counts in two of the constituencies in which evoting was piloted in
2002. This information is contained in the Dublin County returning
officer's reports on the use of evoting for 2002 Dáil election and
Nice II referendum obtained by Mr Joe McCarthy under FoI.
Contrary to claims by Minister for The Environment, Heritage and Local
Government, Mr Martin Cullen T.D. , , significant anomalies were
discovered in the election results employing the Nedap/Powervote system
at the time of the 2002 election and referendum. "Specific claims of
`the earlier successful use of the system in Ireland in three
constituencies at the 2002 general election'  are misleading,
misinformed and mistaken" commented Mr Dermot Casey of the Irish
Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE).
In the case of the Dáil Election in the Dublin West Constituency, these
reports indicate the Presiding Officer recorded 29,272 votes as having
been cast. The Nedap/Powervote modules recorded 29,988 votes as having
being cast, a difference of 716 votes. These 716 unexplained votes
represent 2.4% of those who voted in the constituency of Dublin West.
A further flaw emerged in the results of the Dublin North Election in
which Ms Nora Owen lost her seat. In Dublin North the documents indicate
that the Presiding Officers recorded 45,236 votes as having been cast in
that constituency. The Nedap/Powervote ballot modules recorded only
43,942 votes. "This difference of 1,294 votes represents 2.9% of total
poll and is extremely worrying" noted Mr Dermot Casey of ICTE.
Due to the procedures put in place by the presiding officers, it is
impossible to tell if the discrepancies are the result of human error,
machine error or even tampering. However with a Voter Verified Audit
Trail (VVAT), as proposed by over half of the 162 recent submissions to
the Commission on Electronic Voting, it would have been trivial to
determine. As Colm MacCárthaigh of ICTE commented "There is simply no
record of how many people actually turned up to vote, so we don't know
if votes went missing or appeared out of nowhere." Mr Dermot Casey of
ICTE noted that "without a voter verified paper audit trail the
security, accuracy and integrity of the electoral process will be
In promoting the proposed evoting system Minister Cullen pointed out
"There is no doubt that some seats can be decided by error. In the last
local elections 21,000 votes were declared spoiled, while at the same
time 40 seats were decided by less than 50 votes."  We now have a
situation where there are questions surrounding 2000 votes in just two
constituencies, a problem potentially four times worse than spoiled
votes if repeated across all 43 constituencies. Discrepancies of this
magnitude are rare in most elections. A group monitoring the Nice II
Referendum pointed out at the time that "There is also no correlation
in the polling station between the number of votes cast and the number
of votes counted, even though this is an elementary procedure in most
if not all polling stations in the former Communist countries of
Eastern and Central Europe. Across the whole of Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union, indeed, it is extremely rare, in BHHRG's very wide
experience of such polls, for the two figures not to tally at the
polling station level" 
Mr Colm MacCárthaigh of ICTE further noted "this degree of error would
be unheard-of with the existing paper system, where discrepancies can
be easily seen and corrected in plain view of candidates and their
agents. The numbers of votes in doubt here amount to five or ten times
the usual number of spoiled paper ballots." A key flaw with the The
Nedap/Powervote system is that it removed the physical ballot paper
that created the ability to independently audit election results in an
open, transparent and reliable manner.
"These problems could be easily resolved with a Voter Verified Audit
Trail - the paper ballots represent the true count. They are a
physical, tangible record. They are verified by the voters themselves.
Without this record, errors such as these destroy the credibility and
trustworthiness of the electoral system - if they are even discovered."
noted Mr Mark Dunne of ICTE.
 J Fitzpatrick report on Nice pilot (pdf format) (rtf format)
 J Fitzpatrick report on June 2002 pilot (pdf format) (rtf format)
 Vote reconciliation problems Dublin North (pdf format) (rtf format)
 Vote reconciliation problems Dublin West (pdf format) (rtf format)
 Statement By Minister Martin Cullen TD On Electronic Voting
2nd March, 2004.
 Government confirms nationwide Electronic Voting in June
25th February 2004
 Dail Debate on Electronic Voting, February 17th 2004
 Dail Debate on Electronic Voting, February 18th 2004
 Ireland Votes Again Report by the BRITISH HELSINKI HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP
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