IT minister convenes inaugural e-voting working group

Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE).
Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE). Source: Vikerraadio/ERR

Minister for Foreign Trade and Information Technology Kert Kingo (EKRE) is convening an e-voting working group for the first time on Thursday.

Kingo says that the group's main aim is to assess the effectiveness of Estonia's e-voting system in the light of both cybersecurity concerns, and electoral regulations, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

Tarvi Martens, one of the people behind the e-voting system, has said he regards the move as a political statement.

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) members have in the past been critical of e-voting, principally on security issues. For instance, following the 2017 municipal elections, the party mounted an appeal to the Electoral Committee, questioning why the e-vote had gone ahead in October of that year, despite a recently-detected security risk that could have potentially affected up to quarter of a million Estonian ID cards.

The party has also previously questioned the right of non-citizens who have residency to vote in municipal elections. All those holding permanent residents, including non-EU citizens and so-called stateless persons/persons of indeterminate citizenship, are eligible to vote in the local elections. All EU citizens registered resident in Estonia can vote in the European Parliamentary elections.

EKRE perfomed better in the overall vote at the March 3 general elections, than it did in the e-voting component – 17.8 percent of the vote, compared with 13.5 percent.

It attained one seat at the May 26 European elections, getting 12.7 percent of the overall vote.

E-voting as a whole has seen a rising trend, with the March 3 general election seeing 274,232 votes cast online, compared with just over 186,000  e-votes at the 2017 municipal election, and 176,491 at the 2015 general election.

The working party includes civil servants connected with the field, such as Mihkel Tammet, from the Defence Resources Agency, Raul Rikk, national cybersecurity policy director, and Martti Alling of the Centre of Registers and Information Systems. Tarvi Martens and other individuals including former politician and leading light in the Estonian independence movement Liia Hänni were reportedly invited participate in the group, as well as philosopher and activist Märt Põder, and politician Heldur-Valdek Seeder. The latter raised security concerns on e-voting ahead of the March 3 elections, where he was an Isamaa candidate.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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