Opposition condemns e-voting 'shambles'

 

The Opposition today condemned e-voting as a "disaster" following the announcement from the Minister for the Environment the system is to be abandoned.

John Gormley said he had taken the decision to avoid "significant additional costs" that would arise to advance electronic voting, "especially at a time of more challenging economic conditions".

Fine Gael TD Phil Hogan accused the Government of failing to recognise e-voting as an "unworkable disaster".

"After millions was needlessly blown on e-voting, and millions is still being spent on storing the machines, the Government is the very last group to cop on that e-voting is an unworkable disaster and must be scrapped, the Fine Gael environment spokesman said.

"After almost two years as Minister why did it take Mr. Gormley so long to make this decision? It was inevitable the e-voting machines were going to be scrapped so why did he persist in backing their retention ever since he got his knees under the Cabinet table," he said.

"The utter shambles of this project is still being highlighted by the fact that the State has to pay huge storage costs. Twenty-five year storage contracts were entered into and the cost of buying out these contracts will run into even more wasted millions. To add insult to injury, even if the machines had worked, their shelf life was only 20 years."

He labelled Mr Gormley's announcement about an inter-departmental task force to examine disposal of the machines as "a complete farce," adding: "Outside of Robert Mugabe, what country would want these machines."

Labour's spokesman on local government Ciaran Lynch said the decision to scrap e-voting was a welcome end to a "fiasco" marked by "prevarication, financial imprudence and massive waste of taxpayers’ money".

"The writing has been on the wall for these e-voting machines ever since 2006 when the Commission on Electronic Voting said that they were unable to verify the accuracy and secrecy of the proposed system," he said.

"The men who championed the system, Noel Dempsey and Martin Cullen, should now be shown the door by the Taoiseach."

Mr Lynch warned that getting out of the arrangement for storing the e-voting machines could lead to "further gouging of the taxpayer".

Some €51 million has been spent so far on the system, with associated storage costs. The machines are being stored in locations throughout the State, and the cost of this is estimated to be €3.5 million by the end of this year.

The Netherlands and Germany had considering using electronic voting, but both have abandoned it over security concerns.