E-votes can be canceled by voting at polling stations on election day

Voting in the 2017 local elections in Estonia.
Voting in the 2017 local elections in Estonia. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

For the first time this year, it will be possible to cancel an online vote in a polling station on election day. Several other changes have also been made to the voting process.

ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" looked at the e-voting process on Monday evening's broadcast.

For the first time this year, e-voting will be allowed throughout the advanced voting period leading up to the election. This will be between October 11-16. Online voting is not allowed on election day, October 17.

Electronic voter lists will also be used for the first time and it will be possible for the voter to vote in any polling station in their district.

Additionally, those who cast their votes online during advance voting can also change their vote on election day if they vote with a paper ballot at a polling station, AK reported.

Previously, this was not allowed and an online vote cast during advanced voting could only be canceled with a paper ballot cast during the same time period.

Arne Koitmäe, head of the state election service, told ERR News the changes have come about due to the introduction of electronic voter lists.

"When an e-voter cancels their e-vote by voting in a polling station on Sunday, the information is immediately recorded in the electronic voter list and the e-vote can be canceled after voting has ended at 8 p.m.," he said.  

"Before 2021 this was not possible, because the voter lists were on paper and the e-voters list had to be synced manually with the paper voter list in each polling station. This took time, so i-voting ended on Wednesday."

This year the results for paper and online votes will be announced at the same time, Koitmäe said.

More information about online voting can be found on the Estonian Election Commission's website.

ERR News has republished the commission's explanation about why it is possible to cast a ballot more than once when voting online.

Why is it possible to change my vote at i-voting, but not at voting with a ballot paper? 

The possibility of changing one's vote is necessary for ensuring the free will of the voter.

The possibility of changing protects the voter against influencing their voting preferences. Influencing would not be effective because the voter can change their decision later either electronically or with a ballot paper in the polling station. 

In the judgment made in 2005, the Supreme Court of Estonia has said the following: "It is clear that in the case of electronic voting in an uncontrolled medium, that is via Internet outside a polling division, it is more difficult for the state to guarantee that voting is free of external influence and secret./../ The Chamber is of the opinion that the possibility to change one's electronic vote is necessary for guaranteeing the freedom of elections and secrecy of voting."

Editor's note: Additional quotes from Arne Koitmäe have been added to this article.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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