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Concerns about the Electronic Voting System proposed for CLP Elections


Concerns about the Electronic Voting System proposed for CLP Elections

The Local Staff Committee (CLP) here in the Commission in Luxembourg has called a General Assembly of Staff on 15/06/2009 to modify the statutes of the CLP to take account of Electronic Voting, which was first tried in 2007 here. ( One could ask, if E-Voting was not provided for in the CLP statutes, was the 2007 election valid? )

The time is right therefore to ask the stakeholders who are pushing for an Electronic Voting System (EVS) to be used, (i.e. mainly ADMIN, DIGIT, the bigger trade unions), some questions.

1. Why is an EVS needed?
2. Is it simply to save money?
3. What about Transparency and Democracy?

DIGIT claims that the first 'live' test of the EVS in 2007 was a huge success, with absolutely no problems reported.

This is stretching the truth almost to breaking point.

In the few weeks following the Election, several people wrote to the Commission en Direct asking Admin some very appropriate questions.

Here is a summary of the points made:

1. What sort of trace of each vote was kept to enable a recount in the event of a very closely contested result?

2. What steps were taken to ensure that there was no hidden programming code in the application, which was beneficial to one particular list or detrimental to another?

3. What steps were taken to ensure that the version of the application actually used 'live', was the one tested by the Scrutineers?

4. How was it possible to submit a blank or 'spoiled' ballot? Did this reduced functionality as compared to the traditional paper ballot, disenfranchise some voters?

5. What steps are foreseen to identify and interview non-voters to establish reasons for non-participation and any related bias in the results? This would demonstrate if the EVS provided the exact same functionality as the traditional Paper Ballot System.

6. Answers to all these questions would be valuable, to help allay fears among certain staff members. This would improve future participation rates, the representativity of outcomes and confidence in those outcomes. All of which are desirable.

7. Given that there are strong indications that THE E-VOTING APPLICATION AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION in Luxembourg in 2007. Then the Commission, needs to investigate this issue carefully so as to avoid this problem in the future.

While, from an administrative perspective, the e-Voting may seem to have gone smoothly; this misses the point. The aim is to provide a Transparent and Clearly Democratic System, in order to ensure a satisfactory outcome, which is supported by the majority of staff concerned. And that clearly did not happen in 2007 as there are doubts expressed about possible disenfranchisement and other errors which may have affected the outcome!

Additionally, why did the Admin official, who demonstrated the EVS to the Trade Unions prior to the election, ask each Union to sign a declaration that they would not contest the result of the elections, purely on the basis of the fact that an EVS had been used? Did DIGIT/ADMIN not themselves trust that their system exactly replicated the old paper system, or that it was secure?

So far, there has been total silence from DIGIT or ADMIN about these concerns raised.

In Germany, e-Voting has been found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court a few months ago. Only very recently, Ireland abandoned its plans to introduce e-Voting, following a costly trial ( greater than 55 million euro ), during which, in two constituencies, 1,000s of votes went missing!

In Belgium, in an incident in Schaerbeek on May 18th, 2003, a candidate received 4,096 more votes, than the total number of votes cast, when an EVS was in operation.

E-voting vastly increases the risk of major Election Fraud in comparison to a paper ballot system. In the traditional system one person can only carry-out a fairly small-scale fraud. But, if someone gets access to an EVS, they could modify 1,000s of votes.

Some countries have abandoned E-voting after trying it for a while because of the above-mentioned concerns.

The only answer to all these problems is a Voter-Verified? Paper Ballot (VVPB) also known as 'Voter Verified Audit Trail'.

This involves printing a paper record of each vote, to be verified by the Voter and placed in a physically secure ballot box.

After an election, the totals on the machines can be compared with the paper records.

If there is a discrepancy, the paper records become the official results. Most states in the USA now have laws requiring voter-verified paper trails. Sample checks of the paper votes in a small percentage of the Polling stations, is also a good control that the EVS is working correctly.

In conclusion, until these issues are addressed and/or a VVPB is introduced, then the use of this EVS must be abandoned for the moment and the next CLP elections should resort to using the traditional paper-based voting system.

The Commission should set an example to Member States by ensuring that an EVS is NOT brought in, that reduces Transparency and undermines Democracy.

Reference 1

Created by: admin last modification: Wednesday 03 of June, 2009 [17:20:58 UTC] by admin

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