If ever we needed a symbol for the ignorance, ineptitude, arrogance and incompetence of the Ahern years, we need look only to the failed e-voting scheme.
The government went out and bought 7,000 obsolete computers, dressed up to look like poker machines, for €50 million. That’s over €7,000 each, which is a pretty damn good price for a computer so old you couldn’t play Duke Nukem on it.
On top of that, they agreed a deal with Nedap, the Dutch supplier of the slot-machines, that made it impossible for Irish experts to examine the source code of the software to make sure it was a correct representation of our PR voting system. We had to take their word for it.
Nedap saw the idiots coming and handed them the 7,000 toy computers with a shrug and a sneer. Stupid Paddies.
When Ahern and his goons got it home, they didn’t test the system. Instead, they piloted it, which means they asked a few local librarians and town clerks if they thought it was any good. And when these formidable intellects pronounced it good, it was duly installed. In Ahern’s world, that amounted to a rigorous test. The reality was that nobody knew if the software was doing what it was supposed to do. There was no way of checking. No paper trail. No possibility of a re-count.
When IT experts, such as Joe McCarthy, raised well-founded concerns about the reliability of the machines, Bertie Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Martin Cullen sneered at them. Ahern, in a characteristically ill-informed jibe, accused such people of being backward by sticking with the old pencil (or peann luaidhe as he put it). As with all ignorant men, Ahern didn’t know enough to realise that he was out of his depth, and he continued to dismiss the IT professionals who were expressing concerns for the security of our democracy.
Remember, Ahern is a man who can’t scratch an X on a rock without sticking his tongue out, and yet he felt qualified to belittle the advice of people who had spent their entire professional lives learning about such matters.
It was an example of that unique mindset that comes from a combination of ignorance and arrogance, and it lay behind many of the stupid decisions that this government has made, culminating in their utterly ill-conceived decision to bail out the Russian mafia.
Biffo has now announced that the machines are to be scrapped. Nobody wants them, which is hardly surprising since they’re older than a Bertie Ahern excuse, and now we’re stuck with the problem of what to do with them. Not content with having stiffed the thick Paddies for €50 million by selling them 7,000 useless funfair machines, Nedap are now telling the government that they can’t sell them on because the software is licensed. (The dodgy, unreliable, unworkable software, that is).
Here’s a suggestion. Why don’t we donate them to North Korea for use in rigged elections? I’m sure Nedap would have no problem making their software even more obscure and a little reprogramming would guarantee 120% of the electorate voting for the Great Leader.
Everyone’s a winner.
More about e-voting on Bock.