Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (839, 840, 841)

Trevor Sargent

Question:

956 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the projected lifespan of the electronic machines the Government is purchasing; the cost of replacing them on an ongoing basis; the cost of ongoing software and hardware support; and if the software licences have to be renewed periodically. [1500/04]

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Trevor Sargent

Question:

957 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if bug fixes and security updates to the electronic voting software have to be paid for by the Exchequer; the cost of configuring the software for each election or referendum; and the cost of training returning officers and election staff, initially and on an ongoing basis. [1501/04]

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Trevor Sargent

Question:

958 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which electronic voting compares to the paper method in terms of long-term cost. [1502/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 956 to 958, inclusive, together.

The projected lifespan of the electronic voting machines is 20 years and there will be little or no ongoing replacement or annual maintenance costs. The warranty on the voting machines expires at the end of 2007 and after this time a service agreement will be entered into with the suppliers. As regards the integrated election system, IES, the Department will continue with software testing up to the June polls. There will be no additional cost for software updates within this period. The question of software licensing and ongoing software support thereafter will be considered following the 2004 polls. Further significant changes in the software for future elections or referendums should not arise, other than those that may be required by changes in electoral legislation.

Definitive cost comparisons of a national poll carried out under the manual system and the electronic system will not be available until after the first countrywide use of the new system in June of this year, however, significant savings in staff costs at counting stage are anticipated. Training of returning officers and election staff is ongoing and firm costs will not be available until later this year. Training requirements in the future will be determined by the frequency of polls and the availability of trained staff for such polls.

Question No. 959 answered with QuestionNo. 924.