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 a 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 Parliamentary elections 2011, 24,3 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.