Estonia, Internet, Legislation, Technology

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 22.02.2024, 05:26

New record set in e-voting in Estonia

Juhan Tere, BC, Tallinn, 04.03.2011.Print version
A record number of Estonians cast Internet ballots in the Baltic state's general election, still the only parliamentary poll in the world with an online option, data showed Thursday.

Figures from the Estonian electoral commission showed that 140,846 people – over 15% of the electorate in the nation of 1.3 million – had voted online, informs LETA.


"Estonia is unique in using e-voting for parliamentary elections," electoral commission spokesman Erki Peegel told AFP.


Although the general election is on Sunday, Estonians who did not want to turn out in person had the right to cast Internet votes via a secure system between February 24 and March 2.


Their confidential ballots – which can be sent from any computer provided the user has downloaded special software and logs onto a secure site with an encoded ID card – will be counted on election day just like the paper equivalents.


After five decades of Soviet rule ended in 1991, Estonia opted to go hi-tech as fast as possible, and outstripped other members of the European Union, which it joined in 2004. It has earned the nickname "E-stonia". Most public services are accessible at a special state portal.


Estonia pioneered e-voting in municipal elections in 2005. More than 9,000 people went online for that ballot.


By the 2007 general election, 30,000 people chose it. In Estonia's 2009 European parliament vote, the number was 58,000, and in last October's local elections, 104,000 people.


E-voting has been adopted in other countries for referenda or political party primaries, for example.


But while Estonia has inspired others, even those at the forefront of the e-voting movement are still at the teething stage when it comes to electing lawmakers.


Next in line is Switzerland, which aims to adopt Internet ballots in parliamentary elections this October – but so far only for expatriate voters who hail from selected regions.


"Estonia is is still unique in having full e-voting at the national parliamentary level," Swiss e-voting official Michel Chevallier told AFP. "Switzerland is second after Estonia as far as Internet voting is concerned".

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