Roche on the rationale for evoting

November 30th, 2005 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Thanks to the ICTE list I’ve read a transcript of yesterday’s Dáil debate on electronic voting, including this comment from Minister Dick Roche:

The Government decision in February 2000 to move to electronic voting and counting in Ireland aimed at securing a broad range of identified benefits compared to the current manual arrangements, including more democratic outcomes through the minimisation of invalid votes and the more accurate counting of votes, provision of a higher level of service to the public, greater flexibility and speed in the voting and counting processes, and increased use of modern information and communications technologies.

Careful readers will note that four benefits are listed for electronic voting:

  • More democratic outcomes
  • provision of a higher level of service
  • greater flexibility and speed in the voting and counting processes
  • increased use of ICTs

See that? Yes, that last one. The use of ICTs is seen as a benefit in and of itself – that is, it is seen as a benefit, independent of its contribution to usability, accuracy, improved service, or ‘more democratic outcomes.’

When I’ve quoted Mary Hanafin’s similar comments in the past – she said, essentially, that the introduction of egovernment should not reduce the utility of the services provided, while using as high-tech facilities as possible – that I’ve over-parsed her, that she couldn’t really be seeing use of cutting-edge technologies as an end in itself, to be limited only by a desire not to make things worse for citizens and consumers – but I’ve ultimately been reassured, if that’s the right word, that I’ve been making a fair analysis. These comments, unfortunately, reaffirm that view.

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