Since 2005, Estonia has been making global headlines because of its successful and secure i-voting system.
Estonia, the northern European country on the Baltic Sea, is setting election trends for the world to follow. In its most recent Parliamentary elections, 44.4% of its registered voters cast their ballots online. This is a 40-percent increase compared to the same elections in 2015.
Between February 21 and March 3, more than 247,000 of Estonia’s 887,000 registered voters securely cast their ballots online.
The tiny former Soviet Republic takes pride in its role as a model of digital democracy. It ranks high on the UN’s e-Government Development Index.
Experts agree there are five main reasons Estonia’s i-voting success.
- The online system is easy, reliable, and convenient for remote voting, particularly during the early voting period.
- Voters have options adapted to their needs. For instance, online voters can change their choice during early voting. It can be done digitally or at a polling station, as many times as they would like. The last cast ballot is the only one that counts.
- The government and its technology providers recognize potential cyber-security threats during elections. They are committed to acting upon them. Detect, deter, and mitigate cyberattacks (risk management) are key priorities.
- The system continually improves its security encryption methods. Blockchain, PIN codes, timestamps, and digital certificates are just a few security technologies in place.
- When voters and other stakeholders trust the system, it’s easier to implement new tools that enhance election integrity.
R&D is a Critical Ally
The Smartmatic–Cybernetica Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting has been researching and developing updates to the Estonian i-voting system since 2014.
The joint venture, headquartered in Tartu, is committed to establishing a first-rate standard for online voting globally.
Smartmatic’s CEO, Antonio Mugica, noted “Our system was developed to meet the needs of the Estonian people to provide accessibility, convenience, and security. Our engineers facilitate a seamless, free, secure and transparent vote that is also cost-efficient and convenient.”
The upcoming May European parliamentary elections will be the next milestone for Estonia i-voting system. All eyes will be looking toward the 50 percent mark.