New e-voting record set at 2021 local elections

Estonian ID-card and card reader.
Estonian ID-card and card reader. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

More than 270,000 people chose to vote online at the 2021 local elections - a new record high and an increase of almost 30,000.

Data from the National Election Committee shows 275,576 voters cast a ballot online this week after advance voting started at 9 a.m. on Monday. E-voting closed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the day before election day.

The previous record number of e-votes submitted at an Estonian election was 247,232 during the Riigikogu elections in 2019. In total this was a 27.9 percent share of all votes cast.

As polling continues tomorrow, it is not yet known for certain if the share of e-votes has increased this time around. However, it seems likely as the share of e-votes has risen at every election since online voting was introduced in 2005.

Additionally, it is possible for voters to cancel their online votes by recasting their ballot in person at a polling station. Although, in practice, few people take the option to do so. The final results will be published after 8 p.m. on Sunday when polls close.

The graph below shows the number of votes cast at elections between 2005 and 2021. "EP" stands for European Parliament elections.

This year, the highest number of votes cast online was in Tallinn where over 88,000 people e-voted. The capital has a population of approximately 426,000.

Tallinn City Government also encouraged residents to vote online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 20,000 votes were cast in the City of Tartu, which has a population of 93,124.

In total, 39.6 percent of the electorate have voted so far which is 425,411 people.

More e-voting data can be seen on the Valimised website.

Votes cast in the 2021 local elections by 9:15 p.m. on October 16. Source: Valimised.

Who can vote?

Voting continues at polling stations tomorrow until 8 p.m.

Foreigners, over the age of 16, with a long-term residence permit or the right of permanent residence can vote in local elections

If citizens of third countries or stateless persons are staying in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit or temporary right of residence, they do not have the right to vote.

For more ERR News coverage on local elections, see here. ERR News has also put together a FAQ for the local government elections, available here. A list of candidates by district is available here.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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