Electoral Committee: 'M-voting' in 2023 Riigikogu elections not possible

Ballot counting.
Ballot counting. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The National Electoral Commission found at a meeting last week, that it will not yet possible for voters to cast their ballot using a mobile phone during upcoming Riigikogu elections, which are scheduled for March 2023. Distribution of the voting app and vote verification are among the obstacles causing delays in the implementation of "m-voting."

According to minutes taken from the commission's meeting on September 7, mobile, or "m-voting" will not be implemented in time for the 2023 state elections, but that the development of the project continues, and will be back on the agenda in the spring.

"While the first development graphic was indeed drawn up, with the aim of implementing mobile voting as early as the 2023 Riigikogu elections, that plan has now been revised to allow extra time for development and testing. The first possible election (when mobile voting could be implemented) would be the 2024 European Parliamentary elections," Arne Koitmäe, head of service at the State Electoral Office, told ERR on Monday.

However, Koitmäe stressed, that no concrete decision had ever been made to go ahead with "m-voting" as early as 2023. "The goal was to finish the development by the end of this year and then test it and do a pilot vote," he said.

Asked for reasons why "m-voting" would not be possible for the elections in March, Koitmäe highlighted two problem that do not apply to e-voting.

"There has been discussion about how the distribution of the voter app for m-voting will be handled, whether it will go through the Apple and Google app stores, and to what extent it will be under the control of the electoral service," he said. "And the second fundamental question is about the verification of votes. As you know, an electronic vote can be verified by voters using their smart devices. However, in the future, if a voter votes with a smart device, he or she needs to have a second smart device for verification," Koitmäe explained.

The m-voting development is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and, according to Koitmäe, the Information System Authority (RIA) already has a working prototype for the Android operating system. "However, if m-voting is still not going to happen in 2023, it makes sense to postpone the public demonstration (of m-voting) until after the (Riigikogu) elections, otherwise it will confuse voters regarding whether they can (use it to) vote in the spring or not," Koitmäe said.

Elections to the Riigikogu will take place on March 5, 2023, with voters also able to cast votes through various channels in the week prior.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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