Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Dutch will count votes on offline PCs to prevent hacking

  • Emptying the ballot boxes on election day, 2010 (Photo: Photo RNW.org)

Dutch municipalities will be allowed to use computers to count the votes cast in the 15 March elections, but only if those are not connected to the Internet, the Dutch government said on Wednesday (15 February).

Officials were also banned from using USB-sticks or other devices to bring the results from municipalities to the headquarters of the 20 electoral districts, Dutch interior minister Ronald Plasterk wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament dated Wednesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Dutch minister for interior affairs Plasterk wants to prevent foreign hacking of the elections (Photo: Council of the EU)

The measures are part of Plasterk's attempt to rule out hacking, especially from Russia, and follows a report by Dutch broadcaster RTL at the end of January.

RTL said the software that was used to register the votes was vulnerable to hacking because it did not contain any security requirements for computers it was used on.

Plasterk then decided that the registering of votes should be done by hand. Registering votes was the only part of the electoral process that was theoretically open to hacking.

The Dutch government said it does not have concrete evidence hacking attempts have been made in recent years. However, after the reports of Russian influence in the US elections, the possibility is on everyone's minds.

Voting itself is done on paper in pencil and the contents of the ballot boxes are counted by hand.

Municipalities and the Dutch Association for Citizens' Affairs, involved in the counting the votes, requested a meeting with Plasterk to discuss the practicalities of the plan.

The Dutch Electoral Council had said that with the software now banned, the chance of people making counting mistakes was higher, and that the final tally would be delayed.

To accommodate them Plasterk said he agreed they could use technology to help them count, like a spreadsheet programme, as long as the machines they are accessed on are offline. The results should also be transferred to the electoral districts on paper.

The Dutch government has previously said it was “very, very alert” to potential foreign influence in the elections.

EUobserved

MPs and media create Brexit hacking scare

A report by British MPs said it cannot rule out that a cyber attack caused a voter registration website to crash, but also admitted it had "no direct evidence" of Russian or Chinese influence.

News in Brief

  1. British PM scrapes through no confidence vote
  2. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  3. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  4. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  5. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  6. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  7. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  8. German economy hit by global economic turbulence

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us