The Secretary General of the Department of the Environment has conceded that the annual cost of storing and maintaining electronic voting machines would be around €1 million.

Niall Callan told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that the cost to date of the system, which has yet to be used nationwide, is around €52 million.

But he said he believed that software improvements and further testing could ensure public confidence in the system and allow it to be used.

The committee has been told there was no rigour in costing the purchase and attempted implementation of the electronic voting system. 

The Comptroller and Auditor General, John Purcell, also said he considered that the testing and piloting of the system had been the 'Achilles tendon' of the project.

E-voting plans cancelled

It had been planned to use electronic voting nationwide in the local and European elections in June of last year, but its use was cancelled just six weeks before polling.

The decision followed an independent commission which said it was not sufficiently satisfied about the system's accuracy and secrecy.

Just before Christmas, the commission published its full report, including technical reports showing that experts found it 'very easy' to bypass security measures on the computer used to count votes and to overwrite the software.

This in theory gave them complete control over the count in a given constituency.