Electronic voting in Estonia

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The idea of having electronic voting in Estonia gained popularity in 2001 with the "e-minded" coalition government. Estonia became the first nation to hold legally binding general elections over the Internet with their pilot project for the municipal elections in 2005. The electronic voting system withstood the test of reality and was declared a success by Estonian election officials.[1] The Estonian parliamentary election in 2007 also used internet voting, another world first.[2]

Internet voting[edit]

Although the term electronic voting (or e-voting) can refer to both fixed voting locations (as in voting booths) and remote (as in over the Internet) electronic voting, in Estonia the term is used exclusively for remote Internet voting. The security model is modeled after the way in which advance voting and postal voting is handled.[3]

Overview of Estonian Internet voting[edit]

The Estonian internet voting system builds on the Estonian ID card. The card is a regular and mandatory[4] national identity document as well as a smart card allowing for both secure remote authentication and legally binding digital signatures by using the Estonian state supported public key infrastructure.[5] As of March 2007 over 1.08 million cards have been issued (out of a population of about 1.32 million).[6]

Internet voting is available during an early voting period (sixth day to fourth day prior to Election Day). Voters can change their electronic votes an unlimited number of times, with the final vote being tabulated. It is also possible for anyone who votes using the Internet to vote at a polling station during the early voting period, invalidating their Internet vote. It is not possible to change or annul the electronic vote on the Election Day.[7]

The principle of "one person, one vote" is sustained as the voter can potentially cast more than one ballot but still only a single vote. This was challenged in August 2005 by Arnold Rüütel, the President of Estonia, who saw the new e-voting provisions in the Local Government Council Election Act as a breach of the principle of equality of voting. The President brought a petition against the e-voting provisions to Estonian Supreme Court but lost.[8]


Despite praise from Estonian election officials, computer security experts from outside the country that have reviewed the system have voiced criticism, warning that any voting system which transmits voted ballots electronically cannot be secure.[9] This criticism was underscored in May 2014 when a team of International computer security experts released the results of their examination of the system, claiming they could be able to breach the system, change votes and vote totals, and erase any evidence of their actions if they could install malware on the election servers.[10] The team called on the Estonian government to halt all online voting. The Estonian National Electoral Committee reviewed the concerns and published a response saying that the claims "give us no reason to suspend online balloting"; the purported vulnerabilities were said to be either not feasible in reality or already accounted for in the design of the e-voting system.[11] The Estonian Information System Authority also responded to the claims, describing them as a political, rather than technical, attack on the e-voting system, and criticising the method of disclosure.[12] The connection of the researchers to the Estonian Centre Party (which has long been critical of e-voting) has also been observed.[13]


2015 Elections[edit]

In the 2015 parliamentary elections, 176,491 people, 30.5% of all participants, voted over the Internet.[14]

2014 Elections[edit]

In the European Parliament elections, 103,151 people voted over the Internet. This means that roughly 31.3% of participating voters gave their vote over the Internet.[15]

2013 Elections[edit]

In the 2013 local municipal elections, 133,808 people voted over the Internet.[16] This means that roughly 21.2% of participating voters gave their vote over the Internet.[17] It was also the first election where vote verification with mobile device was implemented. [18]

2011 Elections[edit]

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, 140,846 people voted over the Internet.This means that roughly 15.4% of the persons with the right to vote and 24.3% of participating voters gave their vote over the Internet.[19] It was also the first election to allow for voting through chip-secure mobile phones, following a law approved by Parliament in 2008.[20]

2009 Elections[edit]

In the 2009 local municipal elections, 104,415 people voted over the Internet.[21] This means that roughly 9.5% of the persons with the right to vote gave their vote over the Internet.[22]

In the European Parliament elections, 58,669 people voted over the Internet. This means that roughly 14.7% of participating voters gave their vote over the Internet.[23]

2007 Elections[edit]

In 2007 Estonia held its and the world's first general elections with Internet voting available from February 26 to 28. A total of 30,275 citizens used Internet voting (3.4%), which means for every 30 eligible voters one of them voted through the Internet.[24]

2005 Elections[edit]

In 2005 Estonia became the first country to offer Internet voting nationally in local elections.[25] 9,317 people voted online (1.9%).

Outcome and results[edit]

See the material on the homepage of the Estonian National Electoral Committee: http://www.vvk.ee/index.php?id=11509

Main statistics (source: "Internet Voting at the Elections of Local Government Councils on October 2005. Report." [1] [2] Table 11, p 27)

Number of persons with the right to vote: 1,059,292
Votes: 502,504
- valid (with e-votes) 496,336
- invalid 6,168
Voter turnout: 47%
E-votes given: 9,681
- incl. repeated e-votes 364
Number of e-voters: 9,317
E-votes counted: 9,287
E-votes cancelled: 30
Percentage of e-votes among all votes: 1.85%
Percentage of e-votes among votes of advance polls: 8%
Number of e-voters who used ID card electronically for the first time: 5,774
Percentage of e-voters who used ID card electronically for the first time: 61%


  1. ^ Reports and Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia
  2. ^ Estonia to hold first national Internet election, News.com, February 21, 2007
  3. ^ http://www.vvk.ee/public/dok/Internet_Voting_in_Estonia.pdf
  4. ^ https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=1042877
  5. ^ What is the ID card?
  6. ^ ID Card Issuing Statistics info-box at the top of the page
  7. ^ Elections and E-Voting
  8. ^ Judgment of the Constitutional Review Chamber of the Supreme Court, Case No. 3-4-1-13-05
  9. ^ "Report on the Estonian Internet voting system," Sept. 3, 2011. https://www.verifiedvoting.org/report-on-the-estonian-internet-voting-system-2/
  10. ^ "Independent Report on E-voting in Estonia," https://estoniaevoting.org/
  11. ^ Comment on the article published in The Guardian
  12. ^ E-voting is (too) secure
  13. ^ Attacks on Estonia’s e-voting are political rather than technical
  14. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  15. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  16. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  17. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  18. ^ "Verifiable Internet Voting in Estonia" http://research.cyber.ee/~jan/publ/mobileverification-ieee.pdf
  19. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  20. ^ Jari Tanner, Associated Press (2008-12-12). "Estonia to vote by mobile phone in 2011". USA Today. 
  21. ^ "E-hääletanute arv tõusis üle 100 000". 
  22. ^ "Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  23. ^ "Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia". 
  24. ^ Estonia claims new e-voting first, BBC March 1, 2007
  25. ^ Estonia pulls off nationwide Net voting, News.com, October 17, 2005

Further reading[edit]