Wednesday, April 25, 2007

French parties call voting machines a 'catastrophe'

Zut alors! Looks like the US isn't the only country having a trouble with its electronic voting equipment, as after spending several years out of the spotlight of the e-voting misadventure, three unlikely allies in the French political party system (namely the Socialists, the Communists and the Greens) united to call the kiosks a "catastrophe." These quotes from PhysOrg (an unlikely source I'll admit, but it's more of a tech issue than a political one I suppose), say it all:
Amid big queues in general to vote, people using the electronic machines were forced to wait up to two hours to cast ballots... Daniel Guerin, a member of the Paris regional council, made an official complaint to the Constitutionl Council because of "disfunctioning" machines in his constituency in Villeneuve-le-Roi, in the Paris suburbs.

The elderly had particular problems with the machines. Many said they did not believe the computerised system would keep their vote secret.

"I have come here twice and twice I have had to walk away without voting. It takes too long," said Pierre Bascoulergue, a pensioner in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris. "I just don't trust these machines."

The Issy town hall said the long queues were because of the huge turnout in the election.

In the champagne capital of Reims in eastern France a breakdown delayed the start of computer voting. The complicated machines further held up voting in the city during the day.

"It is total chaos, we don't understand anything," said 70-year-old Suzanne Antoine.

"You put your card in and it says 'continue'. Then nothing lights up. I managed to finish but I prefer the way it was before."

Researchers at Paul Verlaine University in Metz said that trials on two of the three machines used in France showed that four people out of every seven aged over 65 could not get their votes recorded.

Researcher Gabriel Michel, a psychologist, said the machines posed "enormous problems".

The computer has several buttons that allow electors to choose the candidate they want to back. There is also an "abstention" button for protest votes.
While the machines have caused a bit of an uproar during their first outing in a French presidential election, they were only used for about 1.5 million of France's 44.5 voters, so things clearly could have been much worse. Oh well, at least they weren't using Diebold machines...

Tags: electronic voting, e-voting, self-service, kiosks

No comments: