Online voting in the 2023 Riigikogu elections in Estonia got off to a rocky start on Monday as updates to voter rolls sent from the country's population register to its election information system did not reach the online voting system in time for the start of online voting at 9 a.m., causing the official voter application to display the wrong electoral district for some voters. These issues have since been resolved.
Estonia's population register continually sends updates to voter rolls to the country's election information system. Changes made over the past week, however, didn't reach the online voting system in turn in time for the start of online voting at 9 a.m. on Monday, the State Electoral Office (SVT) said.
According to initial information, the issue affected some 7,500 changes to information in the population register — including those related to registered places of residence, name changes and age-related voting rights.
SVT director Arne Koitmäe said that 63 affected voters had already managed to cast their vote online on Monday.
"The online voting system and voter application work," Koitmäe assured ERR. "The only issue we've currently encountered is in the updates to voter rolls. Not all changes made last week had yet reached the online voting system. But they should be updated by now as well."
Voter rolls are finalized 30 days before Election Day; this year, the deadline was February 3. Koitmäe noted, however, that rolls are nonetheless continually updated with information like name changes or to reflect the death of a voter.
A voter's electoral district shouldn't change, however there are people whose notices of residence had been submitted in time, i.e. 30 days in advance, but whose changes still hadn't reached the system.
"They could vote online, but if someone's place of residence had changed in such a way that they had changed electoral district, then [the application] may have displayed the electoral district of their prior place of residence," the electoral official explained. "In this case I'd recommend everyone vote again."
He added that votes that have already been cast aren't void, however people should nonetheless cast their ballot in their correct electoral district.
The RVT confirmed that the error in registry information didn't affect in-person voting at polling places, as polling places get their voter rolls directly from the voting information system, which already reflected all the most recent updates.
Online voting open through Saturday night
Online voting began at 9 a.m. on Monday and will continue 24 hours a day through 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 4.
In order to vote online, voters must install the voter application available at valimised.ee on their secure computer with an internet connection. They will also need an Estonian ID card and card-reader or mobile ID.
Smart-ID cannot be used for authentication purposes in the 2023 elections. Voters likewise cannot cast their ballot electronically via smart device alone.
Should a voter feel their opportunity to vote online securely was compromised, they may change their vote electronically at any time through Saturday evening by simply voting online again; only the latest online vote will be counted. If a voter has voted both online and by paper ballot, only the vote cast by paper ballot will count.
Since 2021, voters can also override their online vote by casting a paper ballot in person at their registered polling place on Election Day on Sunday.
Click here for more information regarding online voting in Estonia.
All 101 seats up for election
Estonia is divided into 12 electoral districts for the Riigikogu elections.
A total of 968 candidates — on nine political party lists plus ten independent candidates — are running in the 2023 Riigikogu elections, in which all of the Estonian parliament's 101 seats are up for election
MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a four-year term.
Editor: Aili Vahtla