The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley T.D., today (23 April 2009) announced that the Government have decided not to proceed with the implementation of electronic voting in Ireland.
A process will now be put in place, including discussions with the supplier, to address the disposal of the electronic voting and counting equipment and termination of storage arrangements.
*It is clear from consideration of the Report of the Commission on Electronic Voting that significant additional costs would arise to advance electronic voting in Ireland. This decision has been taken to avoid such costs, especially at a time of more challenging economic conditions. The financial and other resources that would be involved in modifying the machines in advance of implementation could not be justified in present circumstances*, Minister Gormley said.
The Minister noted that *the public in broad terms appear to be satisfied with the present paper-based system and we must recognise this in deciding on the future steps to be taken with the electronic voting system.* The Minister also acknowledged that *the assurance of public confidence in the democratic system is of paramount importance and it is vital to bring clarity to the present situation*.
Some 51 million has been spent to date on the system, and there have also been associated storage costs.
The Minister added that, while the electronic voting project has now been brought to a conclusion, there is still a considerable need for electoral reform which can best be pursued by bringing forward proposals to establish an Independent Electoral Commission in Ireland.
In February 2009, the Minister published a report on the establishment of an Electoral Commission, commissioned from University College Dublin. A consultation process on that report is currently underway, with submissions to be made to his Department by 26 June 2009.
The Agreed Programme for Government contains a commitment to the establishment of an independent Electoral Commission which will take responsibility for electoral administration and oversight, implement modern and efficient electoral practices, revise constituency
boundaries, take charge of compiling a new national rolling electoral register, take over the functions of the Standards in Public Office Commission relating to election spending, and examine the issue of financing the political system.