Government backs down from setting its own rules on e-voting

E-voting in the 2023 Riigikogu elections.
E-voting in the 2023 Riigikogu elections. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

The government has abandoned previously criticized e-voting standards amendments that could have tarnished the credibility of e-elections in the draft delivered to the Riigikogu. EKRE wants to stop e-elections altogether.

"The draft specifies the organization, procedures and technical requirements of electronic voting, which makes the organization of electronic voting clearer and more controllable. I note that according to the latest version of the draft, i.e. the version initiated and adopted by the Riigikogu, the government has no role in the organization of elections," head of the State Electoral Office, the main administrative body of Estonian elections, said.

Critics of the initial electoral law amendments include National Electoral Committee head Oliver Kask and constitutional law expert Paloma Krõõt Tupay.

Kask told ERR that the government will have authority over e-election organization, which could impact its trustworthiness. Tupay said the government could only regulate e-voting's technological aspects.

Hendrik Terras, chair of the Riigikogu's Constitutional Committee, which will review the bill, told ERR that e-election provisions are now moved to the level of laws, so the government cannot change them quickly without Riigikogu approval. "This is an important change and, in my view, a sensible one," Terras said.

E-voting is well-established and trusted in Estonia; 59 percent of the votes were e-votes in the last parliamentary elections.

EKRE opposes

However, commission vice-chair and EKRE member Jaak Valge thinks that the revisions are not yet insufficient.

"These are not substantive changes, but an embellishment of an intrinsically flawed design, where fundamental problems are not addressed," Valge told ERR. He added that Western countries, unlike Estonia, do not use as a rule e-voting as online voting.

"EKRE holds that e-voting's main drawbacks are that the process and results are not fully verifiable and transparent, that confidential ballot requirements are not guaranteed, and that the server's program during elections cannot be verified against the published source code," he responded in writing to ERR.

EKRE considers this draft cannot be improved for these and other reasons, he wrote. A new draft is needed to eliminate the above issues and restore confidence in e-elections and, in the meanwhile, EKRE wants complete ban of e-elections in Estonia.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa

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