Notes from the seminarElections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections: presentations by election administrators and experts, organized by the Government of Estonia and held in Tallinn, Estonia, on 2 March 2019.More notes on this event: valimised2019
Priit Vinkel, head of the State Electoral Office
Estonia also votes with paper ballots
Voting with paper is about tradition, ceremony, ritual. People love going to polling stations.
It is possible to vote multiple times online, but only the last vote will be valid.
1099 candidates, 10 party lists, 15 independent candidates, 880,000 voters in Estonia and 77,000 abroad, 441 polling stations.
253 people voted by mail, 1776 at an embassy, 247,232 by e-voting. e-Voting has been increasing all over the years and more women are voting now.
Voting from home on election day (paper) does not cease to decrease, now ranging 6,000 voters.
Only 5.3 people verified their electronic vote.
Some people vote more than once online (only the last vote counts) and only a very few people would finally vote on paper after having voted online.
Liisa Past, McCain Institute
Current state of health of cybersecurity in Estonia and elsewhere
You introduce technology very carefully.
Security is never achieved. 100% security is not possible, but not only at the digital sphere.
“Elections are general, uniform and direct. Voting is secret” (Constitutions of the Republic of Estonia, 60)
An advantage of e-voting in Estonia is the electronic ID system provided by the Government.
Comprehensive risk management:
- Election technology.
- Auxiliary systems, facilitators and vendors.
- Integrated information operations.
Compendium on Cyber Security of Election Technology (PDF).
- Risk management.
- International cooperation. Operational information exchange and exercises.
- Cross-agency cooperation.
- Last mile in the EU context.
e-Voting is not a technical question, but a political and organizational one.
Robert Krimmer, Tallinn University of Technology
Cost of voting technologies
Main source of the research: Krimmer, R., Dueñas-Cid, D., Krivonosova, I., Vinkel, P. & Koitmae, P. (2018). “How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? Cost Comparison per Vote in Multichannel Elections in Estonia”. In Krimmer et al. (Eds.), Electronic Voting, 117-131. Third International Joint Conference, E-Vote-ID 2018, Bregenz, Austria, October 2-5, 2018, Proceedings. Cham: Springer.
There is a general tendency of declining turnouts around the globe, contested by the implementation of new voting channels to make voting more easy or convenient for the voter.
Cost calculation is a most complex problem: shared resources, infraestructures that can be reused, resources that do not compute as a cost (e.g. volunteers), etc.
||Voting Channel Cost per ballot (in Euro)
|Early Voting in country centres
|Advance Voting in country centres
|Election Day Voting in country centres
|Advance Voting in VDC
|Election Day Voting in VDC
Electronic voting is, by far, the most cost-effective (cost per voter) of all channels.
Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (II)
i-Voting – the Future of Elections?
Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (2019)
Experts and activists
chaired by Albert Royo
Why Voting Technology is Used and How it Affects Democracy
Robert Krimmer, Professor of e-Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance
Estonia is the only country in the world introducing e-voting universally, at all levels. To address:
- Decreasing voting turnout.
- Increasing distance between rules and ruled.
- Increased citizen mobility (globalisation)
Governments say they want to engage in a continuous dialogue with citizens, but are quite often reluctant to actually do it. In the same train of thought, citizens also want such dialogue, but cannot vote just everything (quick democracy) and, most especially, cannot be informed on just everything (thin democracy).
e-Democracy will transform democracy and challenge representation, but it can also offer more participation possibilities.
e-Voting strengthens secrecy and security in comparison to traditional voting, not the other way round.
Democracy as citizens’ surveillance on their institutions
Simona Levi, Founder of XNet
More than e-democracy we should be talking about distributed governance.
Net-neutrality is a must if we do really want that democracy and technology can enhance each other.
Democracy and privacy to correct the asymmetry of power between citizens and institutions. Anonymity and encryption are a must to protect communications. Going against this is highly un-democratic.
Public money used to create content and innovation should not be privatized. This includes algorithmic democracy or algorithmic decision-making.
We must defend technology, not only use it. And transparency and participation must to be at the same level. We want efficient institutions.
Catalonia, a Lab for Digital Citizenship
Artur Serra, Deputy Director of i2cat
The Internet is helping to change our political systems. The Internet works under a certain distributed architecture, and this embedded technological model is slowly but surely altering the democratic institutions’ model.
On the other side, our political systems are also changing the Internet: fake news, firewalls, etc.
Can we think of an open living lab, made up of cultural and citizen platforms, digital rights activists, local structures of digital facilitation, research centres, lawyers, etc.
Citizen participation and digital tools for upgrading democracy in Iceland and beyond
Róbert Bjarnason, CEO and co-founder of Citizens Foundation
For there to be trust, citizens must have a strong voice in policy-making.
- Your Priorities: policy crowdsourcing to build trust between citizens and civil servants with idea generation and debate.
- Active Voting: participatory budgeting.
- Active Citizen: empower citizens with artificial intelligence.
Citizens need to be “rewarded”, show that the government listens and does things — not only talking about things. Good communication is key to success.
There is a danger of privatization in the evolution of democracy online. Participation infrastructure has to be kept public.
Simona Levi: traceability of participation is a must. What happened with my contribution? Where did it go? Why was not it accepted?
Artur Serra: where does social innovation come from? Does it come from institutions or from the margins? How do we gather these initiatives? Do we care about citizen labs?
Robert Bjarnasson: it is not about tools, but about innovation, about opening processes. Start with something tangible, something small, and move from there.
Artur Serra: technology is not a tool, technology is a culture. The new tool is the embodiment of a new culture. We have to learn to think different. If we treat participation as consumerism, we are failing.
eDemocracy: Digital Rights and Responsibilities (2018)