News of: Tuesday, October 31 2006,

Amsterdam will have to vote again with red pencil

Just a few weeks before the national elections on November 22, Minister Nicolaļ (Ministry of the Interior) has decided that about 10% of the voting computers are not safe enough.

Research has shown that if a persons types in his vote, this signal can be intercepted up to a range of some 20 meter from the voting machine. This means that, potentially, voting is not private.

The voting computers are used in 35 municipalities, Amsterdam being one of them. Last year, Amsterdam was one of the last cities in Holland to abondon the traditional red pencil and paper voting forms.

An action group of computer experts called 'We don't trust voting machines' (link to English page) has called for better computers and safer procedures. Not only do they complain about interceptability of signals sent by the voting machines, they also complain that fraud is simpler with the machines because there is no 'paper trail'. They showed how they can gain complete and virtually undetectable control over election results.
A remarkable fact is that the group has shown that signals can be intercepted from the type voting machine that is used in the other 90% of the Dutch towns. Use of this type of machine has not (yet) been forbidden by the government.

After adopting the voting machines, the city of Amsterdam has sold all containers in which the vote forms were to be dropped by the voters. The lack of these containers might be one of the biggest problems to get ready before November 22.