Why is e-voting available only in Estonian?

E-voting in Estonia.
E-voting in Estonia. Source: ERR

E-voting is an extension of the options the state offers to people to vote. This means it is based on all the same principles as voting at polling stations. They include providing explanations in Russian and English—but the procedure itself is in Estonia’s one official language only.

The legal basis is straightforward. The Language Act states that the language of the Estonian state is Estonian—meaning that any additional information published on the part of the state is either regulated case by case, or then a matter of courtesy rather than a legal requirement.

In the case of e-voting, where the voter uses an app taking them through the process step by step, first identifying themselves, then choosing a candidate and list, and eventually voting for their choice, this means that there is only an Estonian app.

There are instructions provided by the National Election Committee in English and in Russian. ERR News’ own step-by-step guide is here.

Some of the 182,841 non-citizens who are entitled to vote will be kept from doing so by this access issue, though they all have the option to follow the instructions provided by the state.

This arrangement doesn’t differ much from the way other European Union member states run elections. The general consensus in the union is that access can be seen as given so long as information is available that explains how the voting procedure works.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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