In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap.
An Offaly-based firm, KMK Metals Recycling, was declared the Government’s preferred bidder out of seven tenders.
The company paid a mere €70,267 for the machines – a steal when one considers the €55 million they have cost the State to date. The price paid also works out at just half the annual €140,000 cost of storing them.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he was “glad to bring this sorry episode to a conclusion on behalf of the taxpayer”.
“From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55 million.
“While this is a scandalous waste of public money, I am happy to say that we will not incur any further costs in the disposal of the machines,” he said.
The managing director of KMK, Kurt Kyck, said the price the company paid for the machines was based on what it expected to make from the recovery of their metal components and associated equipment.
“All the components – aluminium, electrical circuitry, copper cabling and plastic, will be removed and dismantled, shredded and organised for recycling,” he said.
The equipment includes 7,500 e-voting machines; 1,232 transport/storage trolleys; 2,142 hand trolleys and 4,787 metal tilt tables on which the machines were to be placed in polling stations.
E-voting machines were piloted in a number of constituencies during the 2002 general election and later the same year in seven constituencies during the Nice referendum.
Plans to roll out the machines on a national basis in the 2004 local and European elections were abandoned by the then minister for the environment, Martin Cullen, after a report from an independent commission raised issues about their reliability.
Amidst mounting concerns over their reliability and storage costs (which, in the years 2004 to 2008 were €658,000, €696,000, €706,000, €489,000 and €204,000 respectively) the idea of e-voting was finally scrapped in 2009. The same fate now awaits the machines themselves.