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E-Voting to Become More Transparent

The party's complaint is based on what it says are flaws in the nation's much-touted e-voting system.
The party's complaint is based on what it says are flaws in the nation's much-touted e-voting system. Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Parliament is looking to amend the electronic voting procedure in such a way as to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly.

Starting from 2005, e-voting has been used in five elections in Estonia. In order to make the system more reliable and trustworthy, legislators are now looking for a way to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly. This solution was proposed in response to the concerns that arose during the last elections regarding the possibility of voters' computers being tampered with, reported ETV.

"In the case of a virus that blocks voting, a person may think that he has voted, when in fact the vote has not reached the system. This is why we came up with the idea of giving voters an opportunity to check their votes," said Reform Party MP and member of Parliament's Constitutional Committee Andrei Korobeinik.

According to him, the voter's computer is the weakest link in the chain and vote checking is one of the most complicated issues being tackled at the moment. "The initial idea is that the voter will be shown an image that he can photograph off the screen using his mobile phone, and then the system will tell him whether his vote has been registered correctly or not," he explained.

As an example, Korobeinik noted that voters can check their votes in Norwegian elections, but added that the Norwegian system is too complicated for ordinary voters. The system currently being developed for Estonia might not be ready by the next elections.

Another amendment that concerns the trustworthiness of e-voting requires the system to be audited by certified IT auditors before elections.

"When we look at the last parliamentary elections, 25 percent of the votes were cast electronically and that percentage is clearly increasing, so I think that at least a third of all the votes cast in the next elections will be electronic votes," said vice-chairman of the committee Deniss Boroditsh. In the last parliamentary elections, 140,846 or a quarter of voters used the e-voting system.

The draft legislation being discussed by the committee will also align the rules for e-voting with those of early voting, for instance, by requiring that both be held at the same time.

Following the last parliamentary elections, members of the Centre Party questioned the integrity of electronic voting, but at this point, there are no differences between the parties according to the members of the committee.

"By now, the bill has become much more comprehensible and perhaps also more logical, so at the moment, we would not object too strongly if those amendments were passed," explained Centre Party MP and member of the committee Tarmo Tamm.

The bill is expected to reach the Parliament at the beginning of May.

 

Sigrid Maasen

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