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Electoral Committee rejects EKRE election complaint filed past deadline

Polling stations at a polling place at Mäetaguse Manor in Ida-Viru County on Election Day. March 5, 2023.
Polling stations at a polling place at Mäetaguse Manor in Ida-Viru County on Election Day. March 5, 2023. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The National Electoral Committee (Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon, VVK) rejected an election complaint filed by the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) as the party had filed the complaint after the appeal period had ended.

The committee explained that the counting of the appeal period doesn't depend on when one becomes aware of a resolution, and that the purpose of this regulation is to verify the legitimacy of election results within a reasonable timeframe, allowing for the new Riigikogu to convene.

The complainant likewise sought restitutio in integrum, or the restoration of a term, for the complaint in connection with the three-day deadline for filing complaints prescribed by law.

According to valimised.ee, a complaint must be filed with the VVK within three days of the contested resolution or act, and the committee must review the complaint within five working days of it being received.

Cited as compelling grounds for the complainant's latter request was a response to a request for information received from the State Electoral Office (riigi valimisteenistus, RVT) on March 13 which revealed that the Information System Authority (RIA) is involved in the organization of electronic voting.

The complainant believes that the fact that outside parties don't have access to the e-ballot box storage service offered by the RIA is a threat to the verifiability and credibility of e-voting. The complainant finds that with this arrangement, the RVT has unlawfully delegated tasks assigned to it.

The VVK found that the complaint had not been filed on time, as it was contesting an act from more than three days ago. The committee was also not convinced by the justification for seeking restitutio in integrum.

The RIA's tasks in the organization of electronic voting have been described in a February 3, 2021 decision by the VVK and published in the State Gazette (Riigi Teataja). The committee noted that the Supreme Court of Estonia likewise hasn't ruled out the VVK involving other bodies or individuals in addition to the RVT in the organization of electronic voting.

The committee noted that this does not constitute the transfer of the responsibility to organize electronic voting to the RIA, and added that the integrity of the electronic votes collected on the RIA's servers has been inspected.

Supreme Court appeal rejected last week

Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Estonia rejected an election complaint filed by EKRE regarding the results of electronic voting in the Riigikogu elections that ended on March 5 because the VKK had yet to settle the dispute in question.

On March 9, EKRE had filed a complaint with Estonia's top court contesting the VVK's verification of the Riigikogu election results on March 5; the party also sought the annulment of this election's electronic voting results.

The VVK explained to the Supreme Court that they had not yet verified the results of the Riigikogu elections, but that the State Electoral Office (riigi valimisteenistus, RVT), the direct organizer of electronic voting in Estonia, had verified electronic voting results on March 5.

The Constitutional Review Chamber of the Supreme Court explained that a complaint about an RVT operation must first be filed with the VVK, which according to the latter's information, EKRE had not yet done.

A complaint can only be filed with the Supreme Court once the dispute has been settled with the VVK. As the resolution of this complaint was not within the Supreme Court's jurisdiction, the top court dismissed the party's appeal.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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