Electronic Voting – Letter to the editor -2001

The Editor

The Gleaner

Dear Sir

Re: Electronic Voting

Your editorial of Tuesday, August 28, 2001, titled “Electronic Voting?” posed a question and then proceeded to answer it. The point is, however, that some of the information used in arriving at the answer was not rooted in facts. For example, we unable to identify where the budget figures quoted in the editorial could have from because they are so completely unrelated to the Budget of the EAC/EOJ.

With respect to the use of the electronic identification of voters in the next general elections, the EAC position has been that it is not possible for us to make definitive pronouncements on that matter because the authority to call elections rests with the Prime Minister and not with us. Regarding the probability of its use we have consistently maintained that the earlier elections are called the more unlikely and the later elections are called the more likely will be the probability of its use.

We have interpreted our responsibility to be to work with all haste to develop a workable, feasible and credible system and plan, and to determine their costs. Toward these ends, the EAC has been moving as fast as it is possible while remaining prudent.

It is necessary here to remind you of the steps that we have taken since the beginning of this year.

  • We scheduled and held a public demonstration of four solutions to the electronic identification of voters offered by three vendors.
  • Based on feedback from the demonstration and expertise advice the EAC decided that the technology existed to electronically identify voters but was not yet at the stage where it comes to be used in elections.
  • The EAC decided to revise and refine the specifications for the system to be used and to implement a pilot phase in which we would ask two of vendors to participate.
  • The revised and refined specifications were given to Cogent and Sagem with the respect to providing us with the cost of selling the EAC/EOJ 20 machines each to be used in a pilot test and also to indicate the overall cost should their solution be accepted for island-wide implementation.
  • While the vendors were preparing their responses the EAC gave me the permission to have discussions with countries and organisations that appear to have an interest in assisting the country to advance democracy and improve governance in order to determine the areas in which they may be prepared to support the efforts of the EAC/EOJ.
  • The vendors submitted their responses. Upon analysis, it was found that neither of the vendors had provided responses that allowed us the opportunity to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges.
  • The EAC, therefore, requested the vendors to provide us with the missing information and gave them two weeks to reply. Both Vendors asked for additional time and were given to August 28, 2001, to reply.

Your editorial of August 28, 2001, is at best premature in its conclusions. Further, your editorial was unfair to the Government. No recommendation has been made to the Government by the EAC and therefore we are in no position to conclude that the electronic identification of voters will not be used in the next general elections because the Government has not provided the funding needed to test and implement the system.

Yours Sincerely

Errol Miller

Chairman, EAC