EKRE seeks annulment of e-voting result

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Voters at a polling station in Pärnu.
Voters at a polling station in Pärnu. Source: Kaupo Meiel / ERR

The Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) has appealed to the National Electoral Committee to declare electronic voting in the ongoing municipal elections illegal and to annul the results of e-voting in districts where "violations" have been detected.

The complaint by Estonia's largest opposition party said in the list of local candidates published on the website www.valimised.ee, the automatic translation application added to browsers by some people distorts the names of some candidates.

For example Silver becomes Hõbe (silver), Eve becomes Õhtu (evening) and Leo becomes Lõvi (lion).

According to the complaint, there are 110 people on the EKRE list who are affected by this error. As 1,372 EKRE candidates are standing in the elections, this error affects 8 percent of the party's candidates.

It cannot be expected that voters recognize their preferred candidate when browsing the list if the candidate's name is displayed distorted on the election web page, the complaint says.

According to the Municipal Council Election Act, it is the responsibility of the State Electoral Office to ensure that elections are organized in accordance with the law, EKRE said.

The party said that the system of e-voting must display correct voting information and a list of candidates to the voter.

"The fact that a clear and correct list of candidates was not guaranteed until at least the fourth day of the election is a major breach of the law. Persons whose names were translated by the translation app were not given an equal position on the electoral list as the opposing candidate who appeared on the list under his or her own name," it said.

The complaint points out that the number of votes lost due to the error may play an important role in the distribution of list mandates, especially in rural municipalities and cities where voter numbers are smaller.

In the past, EKRE has said it is skeptical of the e-voting process.

However, the National Electoral Service sees no reason for concern. Automatic translation did not affect the display of the names of candidates in the voter application, It said.

This means that the lists of candidates in the electoral information system, in the e-voting information system and also on the website kov2021.valimised.ee are correct.

"The problem of automatic translation was manifested only on the informative website kov2021.valimised.ee and only if the user had set up their Google Chrome browser to do so," Kristi Sobak, head of communications at the State Electoral Office, told BNS on Friday.

She said the Information System Authority (RIA), in cooperation with the developer, completely removed the automatic translation option on Wednesday, which users themselves could also turn off on their browser.

The group said the problem of automatic translation had no impact whatsoever on e-voting or the display of candidates' names in the voter application, and the names printed on the paper at the polling stations are correct as well.

National Electoral Committee dismisses complaints re e-voting

At its Friday's meeting, the National Electoral Committee dismissed two applications seeking the cancelation of e-votes and the termination of e-voting, and dismissed both of them.

The first was EKRE's complaint about automatic translation.

As the problem of automatic translation had no impact on e-voting or the display of candidates' names on the voter app, the committee did not consider the cancelation of e-votes and the termination of e-voting to be justified and dismissed the application.

In the second application, the applicant was not satisfied with the technical organization and documentation of the test run of the e-voting system. The applicant demanded that e-voting be stopped. The National Electoral Committee heard the applicant and the explanation of the State Electoral Office.

The explanations showed that no requirement that would necessitate the suspension of e-voting has been violated. The commission rejected the application.

Editor's note: This article was updated to add the decisions of the National Electoral Committee

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Editor: Helen Wright

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