Friday, March 18, 2011

The Estonian Election and Internet Voting

Estonia has just completed their general election and this saw their fifth use of internet voting as an option.  This time around the number of people voting via the internet was 140,764, or 24.3% of the votes cast.   This is more than a doubling of the internet vote in the 2009 European election and an increase by more than a factor of four over the last general election in 2007.

Estonia is a country of 1,340,000 million, which is slightly more than Manitoba.   The country is between Vancouver Island and Nova Scotia in size.   The country endured 51 years of either Soviet or Nazi occupation.

Once the Soviet occupation ended in 1991, Estonia decided to embrace technology.   They are not among the most wired countries in the world and the global leaders in using the internet for elections.

Internet voting makes it easier for Estonians abroad to vote in the election.   About 5500 people from 105 different countries voted in the recent election via the internet.    I know the hassle of trying to vote in Canadian elections because of where I was living.   I ended up not being able to vote in the 1984 federal election and the 1991 BC election.   I almost was not able to vote in the 1992 referendum, the 1993 federal election and the 2004 federal election.   If we had internet voting, this would not happen.

The people most likely not being able to vote tend to be younger.    Making someone that is under the age of 25 miss any election they might want to vote in is fundamentally a bad thing for society as it disenfranchises people that have the biggest interest in the direction of government and it breaks the habit of voting.

There is no good reason that we in Canada could not offer internet voting.

I am entitled to have Estonian citizenship and I am beginning the process of getting an Estonian passport.   Once I have it, I will be able to vote in the 2014 European elections.

1 comment:

Vigilantz said...

"If you think technology can solve our voting problems, then you don't understand the problems and you don't understand the technology."

"Ensuring the reliability, security, and verifiability of public elections is fundamental to a stable democracy. Convenience and speed of vote counting are no substitute for accuracy of results and trust in the process by the electorate" - Assn. for Computing Machinery

So, what astounding result was achieved by allowing their citizens to vote using the Internet? Just because a higher percentage of voters are using it to 'make their mark' doesn't mean that all of the risks to the democratic process that come with it (vote buying, vote stealing, voter coercion, website hacking, spoofing, denial of service attacks, etc) are anywhere near an appropriate trade-off.