One of the final acts of the 2021 local government elections was carried out on Wednesday, with the destruction of the e-vote.
Under Estonian electoral law, votes must be destroyed after the final election results are announced.
This announcement was made a few weeks after the election and, while the manner in which paper voting slips might be destroyed ought to be fairly obvious, with e-votes, this may be less so – though is also fairly low-tech in the end.
This is done in fact by distributing the e-votes' private (versus public) key on to a chip card, a hard disc in effect, which was used in the creation the e-vote and which in turn is literally physically destroyed by a man with a drill (see gallery).
The practice, carried out by the state electoral commission (VVK) preserves voter anonymity and prevents the vote ever being accessed at a future date, barring the actual result themselves.
Without a private key, e-votes cannot be opened.
E-votes were cast in the advance voting period, October 11-16 inclusive, with polling day being Sunday, October 17 2021.
The final result was not declared for over a month, after all complaints had been resolved.
While local elections in any case have the widest franchise of any Estonian election and allow all residents to cast a vote, compared with only Estonian citizens at general elections, the e-vote in October 2021 was a new record, at 263,566 people casting a vote.
All the major parties save Center and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) saw more than half their votes come electronically, with the overall figures being 64,459 for Reform, 42,748 for Center, and 23,514 votes for Eesti 200, which won its first seats ever at the election and whose proportion of e-votes from the overall total was over two-thirds.
The Social Democratic Party polled 17,293 e-votes, the Greens 4,050.
Polling day votes were paper-only, and just under 2,000 voters exercised their right to overrule their earlier e-vote with a paper vote.
(e-votes can be cast and re-cast as often as a voter wants during the advance voting period, to avoid potential electoral fraud or intimidation).
313,280 paper votes were cast at 448 polling stations nationwide on election day.
The overall turnout was 54.8 percent for the October 2021 elections, higher than the previous local elections in October 2017.
More detailed information on voter participation at the October 2021 election is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte