Richness of Life demanding recount of e-votes

Artur Talvik was elected to the previous Riigikogu as a member of the Free Party, which did not break the 5% election threshold in the 2019 Riigikogu election.
Artur Talvik was elected to the previous Riigikogu as a member of the Free Party, which did not break the 5% election threshold in the 2019 Riigikogu election. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Richness of Life Party (ERE) on Wednesday filed a complaint with the National Electoral Committee demanding that electronic votes cast in the 2019 Riigikogu election be recounted.

E-votes were counted on the night of 3 March, with the results being entered into the elections information system, but these results were not signed, the party noted in a press release. The official results were confirmed following a recount, signed by Priit Vinkel, director of the State Electoral Office, at 14:00 EET on 4 March.

As the results of the initial count on 3 March were not signed, the ERE found that one cannot be sure that they match the signed results of the recount.

The party wants a recount of e-votes at which it can be present in order to ensure the accuracy of the number of votes.

"For the first time this year, the results of the e-vote raised concerns that Reform's landslide advantage over everyone else wasn't quite logical," said ERE chairman Artur Talvik, former chairman of the Anti-Corruption Select Committee of the Riigikogu.

"We began to investigate the matter more closely and it turned out that the first count was not signed and thus could have been changed after the fact to match the recount," he explained. "This isn't how these things should work, and as this affects a significant number of votes which were cast online and whose counting and verifying are essentially impossible, or very difficult, then there is no other option — whether and what has been done there needs to be cleared up before the people."

According to Mr Talvik, if it turns out that the number of votes did not match between counts, this would be a much bigger scandal for Estonia than anything related to banking or doping.

"Why did the first result lack a digital signature that would have confirmed exactly what time it was locked in in this form?" he asked. "We and I believe that all of the Estonian people also want a clear answer to this question, and I believe that a recount is the only option, and that representatives from all political parties as well as law enforcement should be present for it."

Electoral Office: Electoral committee to discuss matter

The State Electoral Office said on Thursday that the National Electoral Committee would discuss ERE's complaint.

"The State Electoral Office would like to specify, however, that all operations occurred in accordance with the law and prescribed procedures," the electoral office said. "Paragraph 60.1, part 10 of the Riigikogu Election Act unambiguously stipulates that the director of the State Electoral Office will sign off on the results following a data integrity check, which occurred at 10:00 on Monday."

The accuracy of Sunday's file is ensured by the fact that this was signed using cards issued to National Electoral Committee members, the electoral office noted.

"The equivalence of Sunday and Monday's files will be checked," the office said. "All procedures on both Sunday and Monday were public and took place under the watch of auditors, observers and guests."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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