RIA awaiting government funds to develop election information system ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

A ballot box (picture is illustrative).
A ballot box (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

The government has not allocated enough money to the State Information System Agency (RIA) for the development of the fourth stage of the new information system (VIS3) which will be used in next year's local elections. The Minister of Foreign Trade and IT said development is proceeding according to plan.

RIA has requested the assistance of the Electoral Commission to secure funding, as well as to finance the administrative costs of the system and the costs of preparing for next year.

Alo Einla, head of the RIA's election information systems development department, told ERR: "In the past, election information systems were developed by the state election service, but now this is the responsibility of RIA. However, the transfer of responsibility for development did not involve the allocation of funds."

Einla said RIA is applying for approximately €500,000 for the last stage of development and €50,000 per year as fixed costs. The rest of the development is financed from the European Union's structural funds.

Preparations for the creation of a new system began last year. According to the then amended Electoral Act, from 2021, communication between polling stations should move from paper to computer. The polling station committees should enter all voting and election information and election results in the election information system, the system then prepares the results for publication.

This will shorten the election period to one week and voters will be able to vote in any polling station in their constituency.

Next year's local elections in October are the first elections where the new system will be implemented. If the development of the information system does not receive additional funding, a legal problem may arise where the law provides for the use of an electronic information system. However, in reality, it cannot be implemented.

Einla noted the previous system is no longer usable and does not meet the requirements established by law, which is why the non-completion or postponement of the completion of VIS3 will endanger the 2021 local government elections.

 "VIS3 is not directly related to e-elections, but only has an external interface for the electronic voting system through which information is exchanged," he said.

The cabinet will discuss financing for development on Thursday. Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Raul Siem (EKRE) said money has been earmarked for the development of the system and is available.

"The Election Information System supports the entire spectrum of elections, including paper elections. The development is proceeding according to plan and the coverage of administrative costs is also provided," he said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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