Andres Sutt: Security of e-elections has always been a top priority
E-elections are part of our digital society. Their security and credibility have always been a priority, and their security and credibility have been evaluated and confirmed by independent auditors and evaluators, writes Andres Sutt.
E-elections are part of Estonia's digital society, like online banking, state and local government e-services, digitally signed contracts, tax returns and much more. Estonia's digital society relies on a secure e-identity, the output for typical users of which are ID cards, Mobile-ID and Smart-ID.
In addition to convenience, there is one simple reason for using digital services in Estonia: every Estonian citizen or resident has a unique e-ID, which has created opportunities for the growth of e-services and development of digital society. In the early years, banking was at the forefront of Estonia's digital society. Therefore it is not surprising that, for example, out of Swedbank Estonia's some 200 million client contacts in 2022, just 2 million took place either at bank branches or via [the bank's] call center.
Why isn't the adoption of e-services and e-elections in other countries comparable to ours? For one specific reason — in other countries, not every citizen has a unique e-ID. The reasons for this are both historical as well as dependent on societal traditions and digital awareness. Which is why our digital society isn't easily copied either. Nor, likewise, do we have to wait for the others as we develop our digital state. On the contrary; we must take the lead and not settle for mediocrity, but rather take advantage of our unique advantage in developing a digital society.
Following the Riigikogu elections, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has claimed that e-elections aren't credible. The security and thus credibility of e-elections is constantly being assessed, and e-elections have been recognized as safe and credible.
The latest full audit of [Estonia's] election information systems was conducted by international audit firm KPMG. The audit report, which was completed in May 2022, unequivocally stated: "Based on the documentation reviewed and evidence presented during the audit process, [Estonia's] election information systems and associated processes are sufficiently secure to ensure the proper functioning of e-voting, the accuracy of election results, the security of election information systems in preventing voters' personal data and choices from becoming public."
It's also important to add as a reminder to Martin Helme that the audit conducted while EKRE ministers were in office likewise did not identify e-elections as being uncredible.
It's up to the citizen to decide what means they use to make their choice known in elections, and a paper ballot cast at a polling place on Election Day has the same weight as a paper ballot or electronic vote cast during the advance voting period, regardless of at what polling place or from which corner of the world. A variety of voting options is a hallmark of a healthy and strong democracy.
E-elections are part of our digital society. Their security and credibility have always been a priority, and their security and credibility have been evaluated and confirmed by independent auditors and evaluators.
The organization of Estonian elections is transparent, and I'm positive that by the next elections already, those who want will also be able to vote by smart device or continue to do so by traditional means, at a polling place. As they themselves each prefer and see fit. Election results, however, are not dependent on choice of voting option.
Andres Sutt served as minister of entrepreneurship and information technology in 2021-2022.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Aili Vahtla