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Sinn Féin will support motion on electronic voting despite FG failure to seek full opposition consensus

17 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said his party will be supporting the Dáil motion calling for a moratorium on electronic voting. He pointed out that Sinn Féin had highlighted the serious problems with the system shortly after it was announced, including the absence of any verifiable paper trail.

However, Deputy Ó Caoláin said Fine Gael has "spurned the opportunity to have the motion signed by the entire Opposition". He could only assume that this was "in preparation for Fine Gael's and Pat Rabbitte's hoped-for pre-General Election pact between Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party". Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"From the beginning we in Sinn Féin have identified the fundamental problems with the electronic voting system which this Government insists on imposing. While we support the idea of electronic voting using a kiosk type system we are calling for the Mercuri method to be applied where a paper copy of the vote, verified by the voter, is held for the purpose of independent recount. We are also calling for the design of the system to be publicly available for inspection by citizens and especially by Computer Science experts.

"It is anti-democratic for the government to forge ahead with this system in the face of widespread lack of trust among the public at large and among all the Opposition parties. Therefore Sinn Féin TDs will support the Dáil Private Members motion calling for deferral by Government of plans to use this system in the EU and local elections.

"Unfortunately Fine Gael have spurned the opportunity to have all the Opposition parties - and I would presume most of the Independents - sign up to the motion. This is ironic given that the motion itself notes the government's failure to 'consult with or seek agreement of the other parties' in the Dáil. The motion appears in the name of the Fine Gael, Labour and Green TDs. I can only presume that this is in preparation for the Fine Gael-Labour-Green pre-General Election pact which is hoped for by Fine Gael and by Labour leader Pat Rabbitte." ENDS

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