Committee finds EKRE leader rights not infringed at Riigikogu election

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

A complaint from Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leader Martin Helme is without substance, in terms of violations of his rights as a candidate at the recent Riigikogu elections, the National Electoral Committee (VVK) says.

The VVK has also rejected seven other electoral complaints, meaning that the way is in principle paved for the final, official Riigikogu elections result to be announced.

Helme's complaint had called into question security issues in IT systems used to count the e-vote at the March 5 election.

Kristi Sobak, a VVK spokesperson, said: "The VVK has ruled that Martin Helme's rights as a private individual were not violated, since he was elected and received a mandate to the Riigikogu."

"Consequently, the VVK has decided not to review the complaint, and has asked the State Electoral Office (SVT) to respond to Helme's allegations," she went on.

Helme had wanted to file a complaint on behalf of EKRE, Sobak said. "According to EKRE's own statutes, three board members' signatures are required to represent a political party, but the complaint only contained Martin Helme's signature," Sobak went on.

After drawing his attention to this, Helme requested his complaint be treated as that of a private individual. He then re-presented the same complaint, with the necessary signatures from two other EKRE members.

The VVK will discuss that complaint, ie. on behalf of the party, at a meeting Tuesday, Sobak went on.

Helme and EKRE's complaint, while receiving by far the bulk of the media attention as ever, was not the only to be received by the VVK following the March 5 election. The VVK has discussed another eight, all of which contested the actions related to the Riigikogu elections, ERR reports.'

In one case, a technicality, the VVK satisfied a complaint whereby the State Electoral Office (the SVT – the body that actually receives the complaints-ed.) had failed to register the complainant's oral statement. The VVK decided that the SVT had been in the wrong, adding it is permissible to submit statements both orally and in writing.

Another complaint also came from an EKRE MP, Kalle Grünthal, well known for his raising objections during Riigikogu processes – for instance during the presidential elections in 2021.

The VVK rejected Grünthal's complaint on the grounds that its substantive circumstances as stated did not affect the voting result.

The complaint concerned the display of statistics on the page, software updates to the Paide polling station's computers, and the time spent counting e-votes.

The commission decided not to consider the remaining six complaints either, adding the circumstances they referred to did not represent a violation of the subjective rights of the complainants.

Helme's complaint says that the e-voting software manual was violated during the clarification process of e-voting results.

The server used for reading e-votes had not been updated, while the computers involved in vote processing had not been audited, the complaint stated.

The VVK says that on the contrary, the server was updated with the most recent available security installations and was configured according to the guidelines created in 2021.

EKRE had long been a critic of e-voting in Estonia, and while it had become somewhat more amenable to the practice, at least insofar as its public statements go, ahead of the Riigikogu election, the result was followed by an effort to take the matter to the Supreme Court - which threw the case out.

In 2019, the e-vote result was announced earlier than the main vote; this time, the bulk of the paper voting ballots were known, albeit excluding those of some of the most populous districts at that point in time, before the e-vote result was announced, after 11 p.m.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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