Internet voting, or ‘i-voting’, is a system that allows voters to cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.
Unrelated to the electronic voting systems used elsewhere, which involve costly and problematic machinery, the Estonian solution is simple, elegant and secure.
During a designated pre-voting period, the voter logs onto the system using an ID card or Mobile ID, and casts a ballot. The voter’s identity is removed from the ballot before it reaches the National Electoral Commission for counting, thereby ensuring anonymity.
With any method of remote voting, including traditional mail-in ballots, the possibility of votes being forced or bought is a concern. Estonia’s solution was to allow voters to log on and vote as many times as they want during the pre-voting period. Since each vote cancels the last, a voter always has the option of changing his or her vote later.
In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to hold nation-wide elections using this method, and in 2007, it made headlines as the first country to use i-voting in parliamentary elections.
Thanks to its convenience, i-voting is proving highly popular with the Estonian electorate. In the European Parliament elections 2014, 31,3 percent of voters cast their ballots in this way.
In the case of i-voting, the cumulative time savings in the Estonian parliamentary elections of 2011 were 11,000 working days, which would amount to around 504,000 euros in average wages.
In the 2015 Parliamentary Elections, Internet voting accounted for 30,5 percent of the votes cast. Estonians worldwide cast their votes from 116 different countries.