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EKRE challenges electoral committee's decision to allow e-voting

E-voting in the European Parliament elections in May 2014.
E-voting in the European Parliament elections in May 2014. Source: (ERR)

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has submitted an appeal to Estonia's National Electoral Committee challenging the committee's decision to allow e-voting in the local elections this October despite a detected security risk that could affect 750,000 ID cards.

According to EKRE parliamentary group chairman Martin Helme, the party finds that the Sept. 6 decision of the National Electoral Committee to still allow e-voting in the upcoming elections opens them up to vote manipulation and the influencing of election results, party spokespeople said.

The party is seeking to have e-voting called off and the elections to be held with paper ballots exclusively.

"According to legal practice, infringement of rights does not have to have taken place; it is enough for the opportunity to exist," Helme said in a press release. "When it comes to calling off e-voting, it is not important how likely it is that the security risk will be taken advantage of, as nobody will be able to forecast that. The fact is that nobody can ensure that manipulation will not take place, especially now, when information about the security risk with substantial explanations has spread across the world."

Helme claimed that conservatives believe that the National Electoral Committee ignored the standpoint of the Information System Authority (RIA), an agency much more capable in the IT field, according to which the potential risk is great enough to warrant calling off e-voting. "For doubt to be cast on election results, it is enough for there simply to be the possibility that the security risk may be taken advantage of, and this sort of situation must be avoided at any cost," he said.

The parliamentary group chairman said that in order to ensure the freedom of elections, all participants in the elections must be able to ascertain the trustworthiness of voting and the election results.

"Freedom to vote is also linked with the general trustworthiness of the systm used in electronic voting, which will be ensured with different measures — disclosure of source codes, auditing the system, ensuring the opportunity to monitor observers, and various security solutions," Helme explained. "Currently, a security risk has been detected, the result of which would be the infringement of the principle of the freedom of the vote highlighted in paragraph 60 of the Constitution and paragraph 1 of the Local Government Council Election Act."

Helme warned that a situation in which a vote issued by a voter will not reach the National Electoral Committee or that person is unable to vote at all cannot be ruled out, which means that the issue at hand involves the infringement of subjective voting rights as stipulated in the Constitution. "If the electronic voting system does not enable the voter to cast their vote for the candidate they wish to vote for, we are dealing with an infringement of subjective voting rights," he noted.

He said that, as there is a substantial possibility of infringing upon the principle of the freedom of the vote and because the general trustworthiness of the system used for e-voting has come under question, the electoral committee's decision is inconsistent with paragraph 60 of the Constitution.

"Taking the aforementioned into account, EKRE is asking the National Electoral Committee to annul its Sept. 6 decision to allow e-voting at the local elections and carry out the elections with paper ballots only," Helme said. "Should the committee not review its decision, the party is planning on taking this to the Supreme Court."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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