The Dutch Government last week decided to decommission 10% of the total number of voting machines ahead of the national elections slated for November 22. The reason: a study by the Dutch National Intellligence and Security Service (AIVD) found that the machines gave off electronic radiation which allowed a person using the proper tools to “see” what a voter selected on the machines in real-time.
Cabinet minister Atzo Nicolai, responsible for Election Reform, on 30 October announced that the machines were to be decommissioned, effective immediately, because of the radiation issue. The decision was based on a Dutch law which guarantees the secrecy of the vote; the law stipulates that no one should be able to determine exactly what a voter voted while in the booth, in order to guarantee total voter privacy.
The electronic radio emanations from the voting machines are apparently the result of bad isolation of the machines provided by ‘Sdu’, a Dutch publishing conglomerate which also owns a subsidiary that produces voting machines and associated peripherals. An investigation by the Dutch national intelligence service showed that people using the proper radio signal receivers and software could deduct which party and candidate a voter had elected on an Sdu-machine from as much as 50 meters away, in real-time. The radio signals were apparently so strong that they passed through thick walls made of bricks, so the intelligence service staff conducting the tests were able to receive signals while located far away from the buildings where the voting machines had been set up for the tests.
The decommissioning decision means that 1.187 of the total number of voting machines in the Netherlands will not be used, spread out over 35 municipal districts. However, an organisation called “We Don’t Trust Voting Machines” recently concluded that the other 90% of voting machines used in the Netherlands, the Nedap/Groenendaal ES3B, suffers from the same radio emanation problems, and then some, as can be read in their English report.
The organisation, which of itself says that it consists of “scientists worried about our democratic election process”, in the report also concludes that it is very easy to manipulate the voting records of each Nedap/Groenendaal voting machine. These machines, with some changes, have also been exported to France, Germany and Ireland, but the Irish government recently decommissioned all of the machines because of the problems encountered by the “We Don’t Trust Voting Machines” organisation, and other international election watch groups.
The 35 municipalities which saw their machines decommissioned are now scrambling to order enough paper ballots and red pencils in order to be ready in time for the elections on November 22, while a decision on whether or not to decommission all Nedap/Groenendaal voting machines has been put off by the Government until further notice.