Banned in Germany, Part 2

In a recent post, I gave my view of a recent German High Court ruling that involved election technology.  It seems I may have confused some readers by talking about what was, in some sense, the side effect.  So, I should say a bit more about the main point.

Throwing out a recent election was the main point of the petition to the court.  The petitioners started with a premise — that the Nedap voting machines were unlawful for use in Germany — and reached a conclusion that the recent election using those machines was flawed and should be invalidated.

Petitioners lost.  The court declined to invalidate the election, although they did agree with the premise that the Nedap machines did not meet the requirements for comprehension by an ordinary person without specialist computing technical knowledge (my paraphrase of the requirement).

I wouldn’t be 100% certain until the next German election cycle shows us the Nedap system being completely tossed out, but it sure looks like Nedap and similar systems would under this ruling and opinion, be disallowed going forward.

So, to those who drew the conclusion that because the Court declined to invalidate the election meant that the underlying voting technology used remains “legal” (under German law), … I (and actual lawyer’s I’ve asked) respond, ” not so much.”

I also point out that the ruling provided some interesting speculation on what kinds of voting systems could or would meet the constitutional requirement for comprehensibility.  With many readers, opinions vary.

I already provided my guesses.  Others’ range from a ringing validation of e-voting including Internet voting, to a validation of the principle of “software independence” which has been under discussion in the EAC for some years.  That’s a pretty wide range of opinion!

But I’m not the lawyer in the OSDV Foundation family (nor do I play one on a blog), so I won’t effort to opine further on the jurisprudence of the  (foreign) court ruling, but I have to note that I really like the German election law’s principle that it is every citizen’s constitutional right to be able to understand the systems used to cast and count their ballots.  It’s a great goal for the TrustTheVote Project, as we develop election technology with transparency.


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