Europe

Dutch to hand count votes over hacking fears

wilders Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Geert Wilders's far-right party is leading in the polls

All votes in next month's Dutch election will be counted by hand to counter the threat of hacking, the government says.

It follows reports that software used to tally results at regional and national level may not be secure.

Intelligence agencies have warned the French, German and Dutch elections could be vulnerable to manipulation by outside actors, including Russia.

Russia has denied allegations it interfered in last year's US election.

The Netherlands will hold parliamentary elections on 15 March - the first in a crucial election year for countries at the heart of the EU.

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"No shadow of doubt can be permitted," said Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk.

"Now there are indications that Russians could be interested, for the following elections we must fall back on good old pen and paper," he added.

Broadcaster RTL had reported that electronic tallying software was distributed on CDs to regional counting centres where it was installed on old computers that were connected to the internet, which experts said was not secure.

Mr Plasterk said the new vote-counting procedure should not take longer than normal.

The anti-immigrant and anti-EU Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders is leading in the polls and is predicted to win more than 30 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

Last year, Mr Wilders was convicted of inciting discrimination after coercing supporters to chant positively in response to his anti-Moroccan statement.

Russia has been accused of providing backing to far-right movements in Europe.

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