E-voting workgroup recommends more audits and observers

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

Experts put forward suggestions and recommendations at the second meeting of the e-election working group on Wednesday, set up by Foreign trade and IT Minister Kert Kingo (EKRE).

Over the past month, committee members have submitted 30 suggestions for improvements. At the second meeting suggested proposals were put forward in three areas.

Head of the working group Raul Rikk said that firstly more resources should be made available so that several independent auditors can check the processes of e-voting. He said this would increase their credibility in Estonia and around the world.

The group is also proposing that the number of people involved in conducting and supervising elections should increase and to raise the number of independent observers at election counts.

Rikk said this could be done, for example, by making it obligatory for a representative from each political party to attend the election counts. Experts could also be invited to follow the process or IT students could be encouraged to write reports.

These changes would help to increase the number of people in society who have received training in the electoral process and understand the structure of the system, Rikk said.

The group will submit a summary report by the end of 2019.

"E-elections are the crown jewel of our digital society," said Kert Kingo. She added that people must be certain the system is secure and easy for people to understand.

"When society has concerns about the e-election system concerns they need to be addressed so that credibility remains high," she said in a statement.  

E-voting has been increasing in popularity since it was introduced in Estonia over a decade ago. At the March 3 Riiigikogu election 274,232 votes were cast online, compared with just over 186,000 e-votes at the 2017 municipal election, and 176,491 at the 2015 general election.

Speaking before the first meeting in July, Kingo said that the working group's main aim is to assess the effectiveness of Estonia's e-voting system in light of both cybersecurity concerns and electoral regulations.

Tarvi Martens, one of the people behind the e-voting system, has said he regards the move as a political statement. EKRE members have in the past been critical of e-voting, principally on security issues.

Head of the National Cyber ​​Security Policy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Raul Rikk, leads the working group, which includes: Tarvi Martens, Tanel Tammet, Mihkel Solvak, Liia Hänni, Epp Maaten, Märt Põder, Mihkel Tammet, Mariko Jõeorg-Yurtenko, Martti Allingu, Arne Koit Hanga and Heldur-Valdek Seeder.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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