back to article Dutch ban voting computers over eavesdropping fear

The risk of eavesdropping has driven the Dutch government to ban electronic voting computers from future elections. The Ministry of Internal Affairs says that the development of safer voting computers has "insufficient added value over voting by paper and pencil". Dutch election officials will return to using paper ballots …


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  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Nice retroactive action by the minister!

    clever trick to revoke the permission to use e-voting machines in March 2008!

    The should switch to p-voting as in Belgium. The noise and/or stench should drown out the signal for eavesdroppers

    The waterproof one with the tinfoil hat please

  2. Dave Harris
    Paris Hilton


    to the Dutch government for having the balls to admit an error

    Paris, 'cos even she can... ah fuck it, fill in the blanks youselves

  3. AListair

    wouldn't it be more sensible to use PEN and paper rather than pencil?

    if you are so worried about security?

  4. Anonymous Coward


    ...the Dutch minister has no financial interest in Nedap. How refreshing! I'm wondering, however, what would have been the outcome if Nedap's CEO had Pledged to deliver Rotterdam to the minister's party?

    Mine's the one with the matching tinfoil hat...

  5. samcoupe

    Good Move

    Computers can be trusted for many things, but voting yikes! nothing to beat pen and paper. it is also a lot harder to screw up.

    I also find it very surprising the IT company where not happy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do we need to be anonymous in a vote?

    I am aware of the irony :)

    But, what is the rationale, are we worried that our voting will be held against us?

    I'm sure a reasonable system could be setup, that would allow us to make sure the vote counting was fair, whilst maintaining a degree of privacy.

    I just think the status quo like the current system - because we keep getting the same lot in time and time again - I am not so sure our current manual system is not perhaps flawed.

    I would love to live in a proper democracy, where we could submit our own items to vote on, and just let the majority decide each time. No more politicians, we could just vote in the rules that work best for us a society. It is something to shoot for at least.

  7. Kanhef

    Radio signals?

    Whose brilliant idea was that? Every idiot and his monkey knows that voting machines should only use cabled connections. Preferably via serial port, with no standard TCP/IP stack in the OS.

  8. heystoopid


    So the Victorian Ballot system is vindicated yet again !

  9. Argus Tuft

    when the robots rule..

    we won't need no stinking voting machines.

    (all hail our robo overlords)

  10. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Up


    I'll only vote by pencil and paper!

  11. JMcL

    While Ireland soldiers on

    You lot think the Tony and Gordon show has been a joke?

    Our shower over here wasted €50m in buying these self same voting machines which were used in a limited trial in a 2002 election. Nobody trusted them, and there were serious questions about their security. The response? Buy/lease a bunch of warehouses around the country (one has a 25 year lease, the life span of the machine is 10 or 15 years max) at a cost to the taxpayer of around €300k per year.

    And since, unlike the UK, the page with the word "resign" has mysteriously been ripped from the Irish parliamentary dictionary, the clowns responsible for this carry on in their highly paid jobs.

  12. Edwin


    Although I appreciate the 'right to privacy', I question whether this is a clever plan (and I live here, mind!)

    There's loads more room for human error in a manual paper process.

    The effort required to intercept the signals is quite high, and I can't quite figure out the benefit here.

    I don't really care *who* knows what I voted.

    Must be all the Geert Wilders voters who are concerned that someone will find out that they voted for a complete git and take away their right to vote. Serve 'em right, too.

    (could we have a roll eyes icon please?)

  13. Avalanche

    @Radio signals?

    The problem was not that radio signals were used to transmit the data, but that the electronic components of the LCD screen emitted (as a side effect) a RF signal. That RF signal can be received with a rather simple setup and would show which party and candidate was voted for.

  14. druck Silver badge

    Anonymous ballot

    Edwin wrote: "I don't really care *who* knows what I voted"

    You wouldn't say that if you wanted to vote for the opposition in Zimbabwe. With our hard won freedoms being systematically ripped from the statute book and ever more crimes and pre-crimes created in their place, don't fool yourself in to thinking we could never be put under the same sort of pressure in an election.

  15. Steve


    "And now that we return to paper voting, isn't there a risk voters can be filmed with webcams?"

    Yes, there is that risk. Fortunately it's exactly the same risk that someone can be watched while voting and we managed to get around that problem years ago with the remarkably high tech solution of a curtain.

    Is he seriously suggesting that we mitigate the risk of someone being covertly filmed while voting by making the system so vulnerable that no-one would need to go to the effort of installing a hidden camera?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I recommend a trip to the Dokumentation in Obersalzberg Bavaria before you go making statements like that.

    In summary it is a timeline of Nazi rise to power in Germany, especially interesting are the parts on electoral "reform" and propaganda.

    Certainly this is the extreme end of things but it shows quite candidly what can happen when voting is not free and anonymous.

  17. Phil

    Why Not Scan?

    Here's how I see it working:

    - I go to the polling station, identify myself and am handed my voting slip.

    - I place my voting slip into the e-voting machine and it prints a unique (and random), human readable identifier onto the slip and issues a receipt with the same identifier (which I compare).

    - I mark my X or Xs as appropriate.

    - I place my voting slip into the e-voting machine.

    - The machine scans the slip and registers the vote.

    - The voting slip is retained should manual counting be required.

    - I go home and go on-line to the e-voting web site where I am prompted to enter, for example, the 3rd, 7th and 12th character of my identifier.

    - The web site shows a list of the (n) matching identifiers, sorted by identifier, and their associated vote and I confirm that my vote is correct.

    - Following the election results being ratified the full set of identifiers and votes is made available. The physical voting slips are all collected, without reference to their original location, sorted by identifier and filed.

    There are things that might cause concern:

    1. Is the slip marked in some way to link it to the identified voter?

    2. Can the generated identifier be linked back to the voter in some way?

    1. is already possible with manual paper ballots and 2. should be addressable.

    Have I missed anything?

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