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Democracy Technology

E-Voting Machines To Be Scrapped

Is there anything that shows up the stupidity of the Ahern years better than the e-voting debacle?

Back in 2002, they paid €50 million for 7,000 e-voting machines, which works out at about €7,200 each, and for what?  Well, in technical terms, they’d be known as a heap of shit.  Nine or ten years ago, you’d pay the equivalent of about €1,500  for a pretty good Pentium machine with a reasonable screen, a good amount of memory and a fairly decent-sized hard drive by the standards of the time.

What did Bertie’s e-gobshites buy for €7,000?  A machine with a tiny LED screen that didn’t work properly, minimal RAM, no hard drive and a processor, the Motorola MC68000, that was so old Moses had one in his chariot.  These days, they’re used in pocket calculators and poker machines.

The government paid fifty million to buy seven thousand personal Space Invader consoles.  A Sinclair ZX would be more powerful.

This is what da Bert considered cutting-edge technology, da fool.  He was prepared to pay many times the current rate for a machine powered by 20-year-old technology.   Jesus Christ, he even had the cheek to call people like Joe McCarthy luddites because they saw what a load of bullshit the system was.  McCarthy, you might recall, is the IT consultant who first pointed out that the system was untrustworthy and who had the cheek to demand answers to his questions by using the freedom-of-information mechanism.

McCarthy pointed out that the program had not been tested using the Irish voting rules, that there was no way of knowing if it recorded a person’s vote correctly and that it could easily be tampered with.  He wanted answers, but answers there were none.  The Dutch company behind the thing, Nedap, refused outright to disclose the details of their coding, even to the people who were paying for it —  the Irish government — so there was no way of finding out for sure if it did what it was supposed to do.  Undeterred, Bertie’s geniuses went ahead and paid for it anyway.

As McCarthy described it, using Bertie’s poker machine was like shouting your voting choices to a man sitting behind a curtain and hoping he’d write them down properly.  It was absolute nonsense.  If you bought a bread roll in a supermarket, their electronic till would not only be more powerful than the e-voting machine, but would also issue you with proof of your transaction in the form of a paper receipt.  With the Nedap system, you got nothing.   Not a sausage.  You had no assurance at all that the vote had even been registered.

Press this button and fuck off.

Bertie, a man with no education, saw fit to lecture IT  professionals who understood these matters thoroughly, in a classic instance of ignorance thinking it knows best.

It was a joke and it embodied all that was wrong with Ahern’s grossly incompetent style of government.  The know-nothing clod was so blinded by glitter and sharp sales talk that he went for what he considered modernity at the expense of democracy.  And it’s not just  in e-voting that he took this approach, but in every single thing he touched, which is why we and future generations will have to live with the legacy of his gobshitery.

But of course, Ahern wasn’t alone in his arrogance, ignorance and stupidity.  Let us not forget his colleague Noel Dempsey, and his equally bumbling glove-puppet Martin Cullen, both of whom had a hand in this embarrassing but revealing episode.

Meanwhile, in a final insult to Nedap,  its own country decided to scrap the whole thing because of unreliability.  The Dutch decided to use that most detested of instruments from now on: Bertie’s hated peann luaidhe.  I didn’t notice him telling the citizens of the Netherlands that they were living in the past, though.

Are there any winners?  Of course there are, not least the Fianna Fáil cronies all over the country who rented out lucrative storage space for the poker machines, but of course, the big winners are Nedap, who managed to pawn off a huge heap of junk on gullible Paddies were prepared to pay for something with no guarantee that it worked.

 

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More about e-voting on Bock.

Nedap functional specification.

21 replies on “E-Voting Machines To Be Scrapped”

All TD’s should have one of these machines installed up their arses. Bertie should have three, he’s such a big asshole.

2002? They look like something from 1982.
Were they plated with gold maybe?
Were they also coffee machines?

It’s kinda like Del-boy in ‘Only fools and horses’ who used to buy heaps of shite gadgets and sell them on down the market, except on a larger scale.
Bertie-boy. What a fucking clown.

I think they should sell them to the Republic of Uzbekistan.. for a few bob.

Or.. or.. leave them storage for another 10 years.
That’s bound to make a few richer.

“It is estimated that €51m was spent on e-voting machines before the decision to scrap them was made, not including the cost of storage and maintenance.

This was put at €696,000 in 2006 alone, which was said to be as a result of the need to insure the machines and keep them in a secure location.”

696 thousand fucking Euro to store them for a year.
How many storage warehouses were required?
Almost 3 quarters of a million just to store them.
And why would you need to insure a pile of rubbish.. In case someone did you a favour and robbed um is it?

Some of the machines were put into storage with a 50 year lease. Robbed with the machines, and robbed again with cronies and their lucrative iron clad leases

What will happen to the 2000 accompanying trolleys for pushing the things around?Our hospitals could get sorted with them.

My concern is that they were purposefully chosen and designed so that they could be manipulated to produce whatever results those who set them up wanted them to have. So to me they were synonymous with a direct attack on democracy. You could vote whatever way you wanted but your vote may not count. Who knows “winning” a few extra seats could make the difference between getting or staying in power or not.

Remember this is FF (and the PDs) we’re talking about. I can see them looking at what happened in Florida with Al Gore and thinking we’ll have some of that. It’s a lot easier to manipulate an electronic vote without a receipt than it is to change written votes.

Of course I have no proof for the above, but the more I heard and read about these machines the greater my concerns were.

They should be put on display on o’connell street along with that other monument to Irish stupidity, the millenium prong.

Ununtu, the free share software guys have voting software available gratis and for quite some time too. It is reckoned to be ok but not yet as effective as a pencil. Usable on mobile phones with Internet access too. Would have saved all that money but as you rightly point out, Bertie is well acquainted with arrogance, ignorance and stupidity.

That should read Ubuntu. Still depending on the mobile phone while O2 scratch their collective roundy bits looking into their Unix servers.

Why don’t you switch to Vodafone or Meteor Unstranger?
I have Vodafone broadband – with the dongle thingy (stick modem) and it’s not too bad.
Not sure why you paid nearly 100 euro for the dongle with O2 to avoid renewing your contract if you weren’t happy with them.
I mean if you have to change company, you’ll get a free dongle if you’re not going on pay as you go.

“There might be a demand for them in Irish themed pubs around the world”. The man who said this,with a straight face, is Minister for Finance.

Excellent post, you’re entirely correct re Joe McCarthy, he produced some great reports which blew this crap out of the water. I’d just like to add great credit is also due to Margaret McGaley who kicked off the opposition to evoting here with her site at http://evoting.cs.may.ie/. A brilliant example of citizen activism and a rare case of the good guys winning.

Thanks FF1. O2 have been the best consistently here in this city that I have found using mobile broadband these past seven years or so. I have tried them all. In any case I was finally reconnected this afternoon (Thursday, three weeks later and over an hour on the telephone with a techie now more knowledgable) so I’m OK just sticking with them. For now.

Ah good to hear Unstranger.
I got caught with that renewing the contract, when the dongle wouldn’t work too. Wanted 100 euro or something for it also if I wasn’t going to sign up for a contract.. thought fuck it, sign me up.
At least you can switch without penalty, although a new crowd would make you sign a contract again.
I’m in the city suburbs and don’t find vodafone too bad.
It’s a bit hit and miss though at times. The contention ratio is probably shite.

This should probably go on that consumer thread…

Ah good to hear Unstranger.
I got caught with that renewing the contract, when the dongle wouldn’t work too. Wanted 100 euro or something for it also if I wasn’t going to sign up for a contract.. thought fuck it, sign me up.
At least you can switch without penalty, although a new crowd would make you sign a contract again.
I’m in the city suburbs and don’t find vodafone too bad.
It’s a bit hit and miss though at times. The contention ratio is probably shite.

This should probably go on that consumer thread….:)

What are examples of things you should not fix (because they ain’t broke)?…

The mechanics of casting a vote. A couple of years ago the Irish government of the time decided they hadn’t wasted all of our money yet and that they also had some more hubris points to spend and decided that it was a national shame, in this day and a…

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