Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Question 130: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on whether the Nedap or Powervote system will be used in an election here in the future; if so, when this election will be held; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30942/06]
Question 155: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the cost to date, including storage, research, promotion, public relations or other associated costs in respect of e-voting; if it is intended to continue with the process of storage and re-examination indefinitely; if offers have been received from other jurisdictions for the technology; if thought has gone into possible alternative use; if provision has or can be made whereby such expenditure will not in the future become the responsibility of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31019/06]
Question 156: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans in relation to electronic voting and the existing electronic voting equipment in view of the second report of the Commission on Electronic Voting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30918/06]
I propose to take Question Nos. 130, 155, 156 and 214 together.
The Commission on Electronic Voting concluded in its Second Report on the Secrecy, Accuracy and Testing of the Chosen Electronic Voting System, which was published on 4 July 2006, that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further work it has recommended. The Commission made it clear that many of its recommendations involve only relatively minor modifications or additions to the system. While the software of the voting machine was considered by the Commission to be of adequate quality requiring only minor modifications and further analysis to confirm its reliability, it was unable to recommend the election management software. In the context of its comparison of the electronic and manual voting systems, the Commission concluded that, subject to its recommendations being implemented, the chosen system has the potential to deliver greater accuracy than the paper system and can provide similarly high levels of secrecy.
In response to the report, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee, which I chair and which includes the Tánaiste and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, to consider the report and other assessment work in detail; report to the Government on the full implications of the Commission recommendations; consider the composition of a peer review group (drawn from international electoral reform bodies and the IT industry) to supervise any software redesign work; report to the Government on confidence building measures; and identify any other improvements that might be built into the system. The work of the Cabinet Committee is under way.
The total cost incurred to date in the development and roll-out of the electronic voting and counting system is some €51.3 million. In addition, information provided by returning officers to my Department indicates that the total annual storage cost for the electronic voting machines and ancillary equipment is some €696,000. Arrangements are now being made to centralise storage of the e-voting machines.
The timing of the further use of the system is dependent on the ongoing work of the Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting, the associated decisions arising in this regard, and the dates at which future polls may be held.
My Department has had no approach from other jurisdictions in relation to the e-voting technology.