EKRE appeals e-vote result at Supreme Court

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EKRE leader Martin Helme.
EKRE leader Martin Helme. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has appealed Sunday's Riigikogu elections e-vote result with the Supreme Court, requesting the results be annulled.

The party considers the overall act of determining the 2023 Riigikogu election results to have been illegal, saying several anomalies and technical errors in the e-voting process had been observed, which call into question the reliability and trustworthiness of the infrastructure used in voting online.

EKRE has in the past called into question Estonia's e-voting system, a system which is often presented to the wider world as a strong example of the marrying of tech and democracy.

EKRE also says the e-voting system as is does not ensure compliance with the general principles at elections, adding that the relevant piece of legislation, the Riigikogu Election Act, lacks rules for electronic voting and determining results.

Party chair Martin Helme says electoral law must stipulate all important conditions and requirements, procedure and organization relating to polls, adding that this had already been addressed in 2019, but not followed through on.

Helme said: "In 2019, the Supreme Court explained that the requirements for electronic voting must be stipulated by law. So far, nothing has been done to that end. The existing regulation is essentially at the discretion of the State Electoral Committee (VVK), which creates legal regulations, organizes their implementation and also supervises that implementation, something which fundamentally contravenes the principles of separation and the rule of law. This has led to a situation where basic security and verification requirements are not met, meaning the elections are unverifiable."

The transparency and reliability of elections is the basis of the functioning of a democracy, Helme added. "All citizens and parties should be highly interested in the a dark specter of falsification or unconstitutionality not hanging over our elections. By filing this complaint, we stand for the basic right of all citizens to use their vote as the bearer of the highest power, without interference, and equally, and for the preservation of the constitutional order."

The party is being represented at the Supreme Court by lawyer Paul Keres.

e-voting was held in the advance voting period, from Monday, February 27 to Saturday, March 4, inclusive. Voters could cast and re-cast an e-vote as often as they liked, a measure aimed at staving off voter coercion or inducement, and could override their e-vote by voting on paper on polling day, Sunday. A little over 1,300 people did this.

In 2019, the e-vote result was announced separately from the paper vote, and ahead of it, within an hour of polls closing at 8 p.m. This time around, the reverse was practically the case; the bulk of the 405 electoral districts had reported their paper ballot results by the time the e-vote was added into the overall total, at around 11 p.m.

The e-vote also set a record in terms of turnout: Over 313,000 e-votes cast and much more than half the approximately 457,000 total.

Last Sunday, EKRE was polling strongest on the basis of those paper ballots whose results had been reported, until the e-vote was incorporated, after which how strongly the Reform Party and also Eesti 200 had performed became apparent.

Most of the later reporting districts were, however, the most populous ones and with the largest numbers of votes cast, with the last two both being in Tallinn.

Supreme Court spokesperson: Complaint has not reached the court yet

Supreme Court spokesman Arno Põder told ERR Thursday morning that complaints against the VVK's decisions and actions must be submitted to the Tartu-based top court via the VVK, adding that as of now, the EKRE complaint had not reached the Supreme Court.

"Once an election appeal arrives at the Supreme Court, the court has seven working days in which to resolve it," Põder said.

Election complaints in general must be satisfied before the final, confirmed results can be announced; the VVK said Monday that no complaints had reached it at that point in time.

This article was updated to include comment from the Supreme Court.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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