THE Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is taking up an invitation by the Department of Foreign Affairs to observe the general election.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), a monitoring arm of OSCE, visited Ireland in late March 2007 to "assess the pre-electoral environment and preparations for elections, in line with OSCE commitments".
On 16 April, the ODIHR produced a report and recommended the "deployment of an election assessment mission" for the general election.
Among the particular interests of the mission, is "the decision not to use electronic voting during these elections".
The same body monitored the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, held last November, and also issued its findings.
In a section on electronic voting, which 90% of the electorate used to vote, the ODIHR stated:
"In order to enhance public confidence in DRE [direct recording electronic] voting machines, and to provide for meaningful audits and recounts, legislation regulating use of such systems should include provisions for a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail [my emphasis] or an equivalent verification procedure. Software dependent vote recording mechanisms which do not permit an independent check on their operation should be phased out."
The section concluded:
"Voting system standards should not permit the use of systems which depend for their security on the secrecy of any part of their technical specifications. Reliance on proprietary systems should be reduced, where neither citizens, nor electoral officials, nor observers can determine how they operate".
That should make the Taoiseach chew a bit harder on his pencil. If he had one.
My previous writing on electronic voting in Ireland: