A new record in so-called “e-voting” is emerging in the parliamentary elections in Estonia. According to preliminary information from the electoral commission in Tallinn, almost a third of those entitled to vote in the Baltic EU and NATO country used the option of early online voting by Sunday’s election day – as many as before. Among them were President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

“Everyone is free to decide how they want to vote in the elections. I trust the e-state and e-voting just as much as all other e-services, from the bank to the tax office. My appeal is simple: go vote!” , Karis wrote on Facebook this week after his online election in a village library in Põlva municipality.

Pioneer in e-voting

Estonia was the first country to allow internet voting in political elections. Internationally, the procedure is controversial in many places due to doubts about the functional safety. It has caught on in Estonia: At the first attempt in the local elections in 2005, just under two percent of the votes were cast online. This time, according to initial data, more than 313,000 of the 965,000 eligible voters ticked their boxes electronically – over 65,000 more than in the last parliamentary elections in 2019.

For the “e-voting”, the 1.2 million Estonians needed a computer, an ID card and a special card reader. Voting only takes a few minutes: After downloading the app from the electoral authority’s website, the voter identifies himself using a PIN code, votes and verifies the election with his digital signature – done. Alternatively, a mobile phone with a special SIM card can also be used for identification.

In contrast to the traditional ballot, the voter can change his mind again before the end of the election – only the last vote cast counts in the end. If he goes to a conventional polling station on election day, when “e-voting” is no longer possible, and casts a paper ballot, the vote cast online will be cancelled. The final results of “e-voting” are therefore only available after the polling stations have been closed and a double voting check has been carried out.

Facebook post Karis, Estonian Tweet Kallas on online voting Election Commission on e-voting