Dutch ballots to be counted by hand amid hacking fears

February 1, 2017

The Dutch government announced Wednesday it is scrapping computer software used to tally and transmit election results amid reports that the software is outdated and could easily be hacked.

In a letter to Parliament, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk wrote that "no shadow can be allowed to hang over the result" of the March 15 election. Plasterk said municipalities and electoral regions will now have to tally all votes by hand.

The decision underscored fears that hackers could attempt to influence the outcome of the election. Those fears grew following the U.S. election last year in which the U.S. government said Russia hacked into Democratic emails in order to help Republican Donald Trump get elected as president.

Dutch voters mark their choice of party using a red pencil on a ballot paper, they are then counted by hand at polling stations. Under the system abandoned Wednesday, those results are taken to municipalities where software is used to tally results from individual polling stations. The same software is then used again by electoral districts and the national Electoral Commission to compile definitive results.

Now hand counts will be used at every stage of the count.

Amid fears of possible attempts to hack the results, the Electoral Commission said this week that a computer security company was investigating software for possible vulnerabilities. That investigation is continuing.

Dutch news broadcaster RTL reported in recent days that experts considered the government's system extremely easy to hack. One expert from Amsterdam's Free University, Herbert Bos, told RTL that if one of his students had turned in the electoral program "I'd fail him."

Explore further: Statistician calls for audit to address election hacking fears

Related Stories

Polish election commission website hacked

November 19, 2014

Computer hackers have attacked the website of Poland's electoral commission, which is still unable to publish full returns from local elections because of an unrelated computer glitch, officials said Wednesday.

'Russian hackers' attack two US voter databases

August 30, 2016

Russian-based hackers may have been responsible for two recent attempts to breach US voter registration databases in two states, raising fears Moscow is trying to undermine November's presidential election, US media said ...

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.