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E-vote is checked and confirmed during every election, say experts

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

EKRE chairman Mart Helme complained on Sunday evening that the e-voting system isn’t transparent enough. Director of the e-Government Academy’s e-democracy department, Lia Hänni, pointed out that if it was the party’s public opinion that e-voting wasn’t reliable, then their voters not using the system as much as the supporters of other parties could be expected.

Hänni called it “regrettable” that 12 years after the introduction of the e-vote there still was a party chairman putting the system in doubt. Helme said on Sunday evening that it lacked an option to check whether or not the number of votes cast in favor of a particular party was accurate.

“I can’t take it seriously if one party wins almost half of the electronic vote. Something definitely smells fishy here,” Helme told ETV.

Looking for someone on whom to blame the party’s meager result in the e-vote, Helme should look in the mirror, Hänni suggested: “If a party chairman sounds off about the e-vote not being trustworthy, of course the voters of that party behave accordingly. EKRE could have had more e-votes if that signal had been different.”

That different parties’ supporters had different approaches to voting was “natural”, Hänni added.

Helme’s statement that the e-votes couldn’t be checked was a “lie”, Hänni said. A data audit was conducted during every election, which meant that the votes entered in the system were mathematically compared to the outcome of the overall e-vote.

“The e-vote is safe. This is also confirmed by the fact that more and more people trust it,” Hänni said. The e-vote was comfortable and made it possible for a greater number of people to participate in an election, which Hänni finds should be part of the aims of every political party.

State Election Service director: E-voting result can be checked

Priit Vinkel, the director of the State Election Service, also pointed to the data audit conducted during every election. “All votes that make it to our servers are checked in such a way that we can assert mathematically that those same votes are actually counted as well, that nobody has added something, or taken something away,” Vinkel said.

Counting the votes had gone more or less smoothly, with the exception of a few issues the service encountered when trying to display the results of the Rae and Haapsalu districts, which appeared last on the website of the National Electoral Committee.

“This system has many layers and is complicated, sometimes details play a bigger role than we would like,” Vinkel said. But the bug had been found and fixed, and everything ran as it was supposed to.

They had handled the incident by handing out information to any individual that contacted them and asked them for the result, he added. “We gave out the data, published it separatly on our website, and ran it on Facebook as well. Everyone who asked got the data from us directly,” Vinkel confirmed.

Making sure that the result was accurate was their first priority, he added. “We’ve been saying for years that this isn’t some kind of race or sprint. We need to confirm the results in exactly the kind of speed that makes sure everything is correct.”

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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