We are told it is all about inevitable modernization, organization, and saving money. No background discussion. Several events should alarm us :
Ireland freezing the use of Nedap voting machines,
Belgium, after 14 years of use, raises many issues. A bill even considers giving up electronic voting.
US presidential election disorders (although electronic voting was not the only issue),
Nevertheless, French politicians do not worry at all, and some would even like to introduce Internet voting by 2009. Their arguments are not very convincing (in France, counting the votes is easy). Potential dangers are not to be underestimated : large scale tampering and loss of voters’ confidence. Trust in politicians is already deeply undermined.
We consider that elections must be transparent and controlled by citizens, not by computer experts. Some of us were poll workers during the May 2005 referendum about Europe Constitution. For instance we realized that anybody without technical knowledge could check whether a plexiglas ballot box was empty or not. Not only did we have to blindly trust a computer that printed a ticket pretending that its memory was empty. We also knew this computer’s software was secret. And nobody in France had comprehensively analyzed that software (not at all in some cases).
Our website is intended to provide information to citizens and municipalities (that buy voting equipment), and to create a debate. We will seek information from abroad, which is often ignored in France.
Electronic voting from polling stations has been legally binding since 2004. So far 77 cities, six of which are over 100 000 inh. use it : this represents 1.7 million of voters out of 44 millions. Three manufacturers are certified. All are paperless DRE :
ES&S Ivotronic (USA)
E-Poll, a European project, mainly French, was announced, then postponed : a networked voting system installed in polling stations.
Remote voting by Internet is experimented. It concerns the French citizens living abroad.
Postal voting was abandoned in 1975.
April 2007, before the first round : uncertified voting computers from ES&S are hastily replaced with older versions one week before the presidential election. The city of Amiens (Nedap computers) returns to paper ballots two days before the election. We forced in court the government to release 4 pages from a (secret as usual) certification report.
April 2007, after the first round : four cities return to paper ballots (three used ES&S, one used Indra).
May 2007, after the presidential election : the Constitutional Council (judge of the election) declares that 1) we may suffer from psychological disorders 2) voting computers « make opaque what was visible », « deprive the voters from collectively watching the operations ».
June 2007 : several parliamentarian elections are asked to be canceled because of irregularities related to voting computers.
June 2007 : Senator Dallier (from UMP - the party currently at government) proposes a bill to forbid using voting computers.
Articles/reports in English about France :
June 2006 : “Ceci n’est pas une urne : À propos du vote par Internet pour l’Assemblée des Français de l’Étranger” from Andrew W. Appel (Princeton University).
August 2006 : “Internet voting in France under question”
October 2006 : a report about a Dutch voting computer : “Nedap/Groenendaal ES3B voting computer : a security analysis”. This manufacturer is also certified in France.
April 2007 : International Herald Tribune : “Electronic voting has come to France”, “France to choose president with help of electronic voting”.