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Election Management System.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 12 December 2006

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Questions (65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73)

Bernard Allen

Question:

75 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if and when he expects electronic voting will be used in elections here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42528/06]

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Bernard Allen

Question:

78 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expenditure on electronic voting to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42527/06]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

79 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the costs to date of the development roll-out, and promotion of the electronic voting and counting system; the costs to date of storage and maintenance of the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42581/06]

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Enda Kenny

Question:

82 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the recent report from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology which recommended optical scan systems which allow ballots to be recounted independently from a voting machine’s software; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42561/06]

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Eamon Gilmore

Question:

112 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of occasions since 31 July 2006 on which the Cabinet Committee on Electronic voting has met; if it has appointed a peer review group; when it expects to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42582/06]

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John Gormley

Question:

119 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the fact that another international report has cast doubt on the security of electronic voting (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42612/06]

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Paul Connaughton

Question:

141 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there will be provision locally for local storage of electronic voting machines in the period immediately before and after each election on which they will be used, before these machines will be returned to central storage; the expected extra cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42549/06]

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Richard Bruton

Question:

152 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expected cost of providing central storage of electronic voting machines, including security costs, compared to the cost of storing such machines locally at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42548/06]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

509 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the US cannot be made secure and that a single programmer could rig an election; and if he will update the taxpayers here on this matter. [43170/06]

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75, 78, 79, 82, 112, 119, 141, 152 and 509 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.

In response to the report, the Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Electronic Voting, which I chair, to consider the report 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 Cabinet Committee, which also includes the Tánaiste and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, met on 31 July 2006. Its work is underway and it will meet again in the near future. The issue of a peer review group will be considered by the Committee at the appropriate stage of its deliberations. The Committee will report to Government when its work is completed. As part of its work in this regard, my Department monitors ongoing and emerging developments at international level in relation to electronic voting.

The timing of the further use of the system will be related to the progress, of the cabinet committee's ongoing work, the associated decisions arising in this regard, and the dates at which future polls may be held.

The Government decision to proceed with the movement of the electronic voting equipment to centralised premises was made taking into account a range of factors, including costs of current and centralised arrangements and the likely benefits to be realised. In this regard, the Commission in its Second Report concluded that, as the current arrangements under which voting equipment is stored at 25 locations are likely to give rise to continuing variations in the implementation of security and related control measures, together with replication of similar costs of implementation of these measures which are not insignificant across individual centres, enhanced and more uniform security and greater economy of security costs could be achieved through the rationalisation of storage on a regional or centralised basis; preparatory work in relation to the planned use of Gormanston Aerodrome is advanced in this regard.

The total cost to date of the development and roll-out of the electronic voting and counting system is €51.3 million (including €2.6 million in respect of awareness and education initiatives). In addition, information provided by returning officers to my Department indicates that the annual storage costs for the electronic voting machines and ancillary equipment is currently some €705,000. It is not possible to detail conclusively at this stage the total costs which will be associated with the centralised storage arrangements, including costs relating to local storage of the electronic voting machines at election time. Arrangements are being made for the procurement of metal storage containers for Gormanston Aerodrome at a cost of €87,150 (excluding VAT); insulation of these containers will cost a further €10,290 (excluding VAT).

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