i-Voting is a unique solution that simply and conveniently helps to engage people in the governance process. 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.
Internet voting, or i-Voting, is a system that allows voters to cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer anywhere in the world. Completely 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 postal 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 the case of i-Voting, the cumulative time saved in the last Estonian elections was 11,000 working days.
The State Portal, eesti.ee, is a one-stop-shop for hundreds of e-services offered by various government institutions.
Rather than having to hunt for a particular service on the internet, citizens, entrepreneurs or officials can simply visit this gateway site and find the right link or contact details for the e-service they need. For example, the e-services most visited last year were for medical prescriptions, and people updating their incapacity-to-work status or personal incapacity benefits.
Once logged into the system with a secure electronic ID, the user does not have to repeat the log-in to access any of the other available services.
The Information System for Government Sessions, better known as e-Cabinet, is a powerful tool that the Estonian government uses to streamline its decision-making process. At its core, the system is a multi-user database and scheduler that keeps relevant information organized and updated in real time, giving ministers a clear overview of each item under discussion.
Well before the weekly cabinet session begins, the ministers access the system to review each agenda item and determine their position. They then click a box stating whether they have any objections or would like to speak on the topic. That way the ministers’ positions are known beforehand. Decisions that have no objections are adopted without debate, saving considerable time.
Once Estonia adopted its paperless e-Cabinet system, the average length of the weekly cabinet meetings was cut from 4 or 5 hours to between 30 and 90 minutes. The government has also eliminated the need to print and deliver thousands of pages of documents each week – a significant benefit for the environment and the tax payer.
Because e-Cabinet uses web-based software and audio-visual equipment, ministers can take part remotely, and have often done so. Decisions made at the meetings can be e-mailed to interested parties or posted on a website even while the meeting is still going on.
Read more about how the Estonian e-Cabinet works here.
The e-Estonia Showroom is an executive briefing centre. Our goal is to inspire global policy makers, political leaders, corporate executives, investors and international media to kick-off the digital transformation by sharing the successful example of e-Estonia and build links to the IT sector.