Ireland is voting for a new government Friday, but the country might not know the full official results until Monday — and the government won’t take shape until next month, if one can even be formed. The AP explains some of the peculiarities of Ireland’s democracy and its slow dance with election results. In Ireland’s system of proportional representation, voters get one ballot but can vote for as many listed candidates as they like in order of preference. You literally can vote for every single politician with a hand-written No. 1, 2, 3 and so on. The multi-numbered ballots mean they must be counted in multiple rounds. At first the total number of votes cast in a district is calculated. This is divided by the number of seats in that district, which produces a quota, which is the target needed to win a seat. If the winning candidate in the first count gets more votes than the quota, their surplus votes are redistributed to lower-ranking candidates, starting with the No. 2s registered on the winning candidate’s ballot. And if there is no winner in a round, they eliminate a losing candidate at the bottom of the list and the No. 2s on those ballots are transferred to other candidates.
A businessman who received a lucrative 25-year contract to house Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines from a close relative in charge of deciding who won the tender has been given a €50,000 pay-off to cancel the deal. The Department of Environment confirmed the controversial move was agreed in recent weeks in a bid to consign the wider e-voting scandal to history. Speaking at the latest Dáil Public Accounts Committee, new Department of Environment secretary general John McCarthy confirmed that a deal was struck with Martin Duffy earlier this year as part of ongoing attempts to address unresolved issues relating to the project.
One company demanded more than €350,000 from the Department of the Environment to take the Government’s defunct e-voting machines off its hands. In June Co Offaly firm KMK Metals Recycling won the tender for the machines when it signed a contract to dismantle and recycle the 7,600 e-voting machines after agreeing to pay the State €70,267. The machines from an ill-fated €55 million government project had been in storage facilities across the State for the past decade before the department awarded the recent contract. However, in details revealed yesterday concerning the unsuccessful tenderers, the department confirmed four of the six unsuccessful bidders demanded money from the State to dispose of the machines.
A Tullamore-based recycling company which recently purchased 7,500 mostly unused e-voting machines from the State has made a generous donation to a children’s charity. KMK Metals Recycling presented Barretstown with a cheque for €10,000 today after it decided to go ahead with the donation despite not being allowed to sell any of the machines for the cause. Kurt Kyck bought the machines last month with intentions of selling 100 of them to raise funds for the Kildare residential camp for children with serious illness. However, he was advised by the Department of the Environment that the machines should be put entirely beyond functional use and could not be sold. “My staff were disappointed and so when we looked at the figures it was agreed that we were in a position to go ahead with the donation to Barretstown,” he said.
The company that bought the controversial e-voting machines will donate €10,000 to charity after being refused permission to sell 100 of the machines to the public. The managing director of KMK Metals Recycling in Co Offaly, Kurt Kyck, had planned to raise the money by auctioning 100 e-voting machines. But he was refused permission to do so by the Department of the Environment — which said they had to be dismantled and recycled. Yesterday, Mr Kyck said he would donate €10,000 to children’s charity Barretstown in lieu of the charity auction.
Ireland: Recycling firm’s plan to sell e-voting machines for charity blocked by government department | The Irish Times
Attempts by a private company to sell some of the controversial e-voting machines for charity have been blocked by the Department of the Environment. Kurt Kyck of KMK Metals Recycling Ltd in Tullamore, Co Offaly, which bought the machines from the government, was told by a department official yesterday that attempts to sell 100 of them for charity were in breach of the terms of his contract. The machines, which have cost the State €55 million, were sold for scrap to Mr Kyck’s company for just €70,000 last week. Mr Kyck had indicated he would sell 100 of the machines for charity at €100 each, with the money going to children’s charity Barretstown. He had come up with the idea after receiving many inquiries from people interested in buying one of the machines. He said he had received more than 130 inquiries from organisations as diverse as small museums and pubs that wanted to put them on display.
The first batch of defunct electronic-voting machines are due to be collected in Wexford this morning and the winning bidder has revealed how he secured the devices. Managing director of Co Offaly-based KMK Metals Recycling, Kurt Kyck, claims his bid of just over €70,000 was unique in that KMK was willing to buy the machines. He doesn’t believe the other six applicants offered to pay the Government to take the €50 million machines away. While listening to an interview with Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, Mr Kyck said he realised the other bidders “would have charged the Government to take them”.
In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap. An Offaly-based firm, KMK Metals Recycling, was declared the Government’s preferred bidder out of seven tenders. The company paid a mere €70,267 for the machines – a steal when one considers the €55 million they have cost the State to date. The price paid also works out at just half the annual €140,000 cost of storing them. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he was “glad to bring this sorry episode to a conclusion on behalf of the taxpayer”. “From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55 million. “While this is a scandalous waste of public money, I am happy to say that we will not incur any further costs in the disposal of the machines,” he said.
The Government has sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap — for €9.30 each. A huge fleet of trucks will begin removing the 7,500 machines from 14 locations on Monday. They will be taken to a Co Offaly recycling company, KMK Metals Recycling Ltd in Tullamore, where they will be stripped down and shredded. Ironically, the owner of the firm, Kurt Kyck, cast his vote on one of the machines in the 2002 elections. He has now paid €70,000 for the lot. Scrapping the machines brings to an end the embarrassing e-voting debacle which has cost the taxpayer more than €54m since it emerged the expensive equipment was faulty. They could not be guaranteed to be safe from tampering. And they could not produce a printout so that votes/results could be double-checked. But last night the man who first proposed using them washed his hands of the affair.
So it looks like ‘our stupid aul pencils’ got the last laugh. With Ireland’s 7,500 e-voting machines now up for sale or waste disposal if they can’t be sold, the end is finally in sight for a costly saga going back some 13 years. Following research and trial runs the machines were eventually purchased in 2002 for €50 million as the Fianna Fail led government sought to push ahead with their introduction. However, amid serious concerns surrounding the accuracy and security of the machines the government was eventually forced to set up an independent commission to look into these concerns. The commission found the concerns were justified and plans to use them in the 2004 elections were scrapped just a month before people voted in June. Since then, it has cost the stage a whopping €3.5m to store Ireland’s e- voting machines.
The €55m e-voting fiasco could become even more expensive because the machines may now be too old to sell. The Government last night admitted it might be forced to pay someone to dispose of 7,500 machines languishing in storage for the past decade. The reason is because the machines are so out of date that finding a buyer may be impossible and they would have to be disposed of at great expense. The Department of the Environment yesterday sought expressions of interest for the ‘sale or recovery’ of 7,500 machines and associated equipment including cases, storage trolleys and tables.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said Irish pubs around the world could offer new homes for defunct and costly e-voting machines. The idea would give punters and emigrants the chance to vent their electoral anger on 7,500 electronic units rather than turning to jukeboxes and gaming machines. “Fianna Fail thought it would not be fashionable as Bertie (Ahern) said to be ‘using the peann luaidhe’ any more and that you needed to have a hi-tech machine,” he said. “But when the hi-tech machine was checked out it didn’t do the job that it was supposed to do so the system was flawed. They are valueless now. “There may be a market for them in Irish-themed pubs across the world.”
Michael Noonan’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that e-voting machines could be a novelty factor in pubs got few Number Ones from publicans yesterday. Mr Noonan aired the notion that the 7,500 machines could be an attraction in Irish pubs around the world. He failed to explain, however, how they would be packed and shipped to far-flung venues. Pub owners were certainly not taking the suggestion in the spirit with which it was delivered by Mr Noonan. He reckons they would give punters and emigrants the chance to vent their electoral anger on 7,500 electronic machines rather than turning to jukeboxes and gaming machines.
The Government has announced plans to dispose of electronic voting machines, which have cost €54.756m. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said a request for tenders will be published by the end of the month, seeking proposals either for the purchase of the equipment, or its disposal as waste. In a statement, the Minister said the market was to be tested to see if anyone wants to buy the machines. However, he said that while being optimistic, they also had to be realistic, which is why the request for tenders also included the option of disposal as waste.
Remember all that money that the Government spent on those new E-voting machines that never saw the light of day, except in three constituencies in 2002? Well according to Michael Noonan, they are now completely worthless. RTE reports that an estimated €51 million was spent on the machines before the decision to scrap them was made – never mind the added costs of storage and maintenance (although why they needed maintenance if they were never going to be used is anyone’s guess).
Suggestions are to be drawn up early next year for the disposal of the 7,000 unused electronic voting machines that have so far cost taxpayers €54.7 million. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has asked the taskforce, which was set up to supervise the winding down of the project, to outline proposals soon for their disposal.
A Department of the Environment spokesman said the “priority is to pursue the most economically advantageous approach, with a view to achieving the maximum recovery of cost possible in the circumstances, consistent with environmental and other obligations”. Government sources are privately sceptical about recouping some of the costs involved, given that the machines are regarded as out of date.