Election Universe

The growing popularity of i-voting in Estonia

The growing popularity of i-voting in Estonia
February 03 2015, 20:40

As the 2015 Estonian Riigikogu (Parliament) elections draw closer, voters across the globe will begin looking up to those citizens who seem to have one foot in the future, and are already enjoying the convenience of casting a ballot remotely from their computers or their mobiles.

Since 2005, Estonia has successfully carried 7 national elections giving all voters the option to vote online. And, as time has passed, the percentage of voters taking advantage of such privilege has only increased. In fact, during the last election, held in May 2014, more than 30% of the participating voters used this method.

Kristjan Vassil, a political scientist at the University of Tartu who has conducted extensive research, stated that e-voting is something that “sticks”: once someone has cast an e-vote, he or she is very unlikely to make a trip to the polling station during the next elections.

Together with Mihkel Solvak, Vassil recently published a research study with revealing information. Estonia went from 9,300 pioneer i-voters in 2005 to over 103,150 people casting ballots electronically in May last year. That means every third participating voter cast his vote online (11.44% of the total eligible voters).

A recent statistic analysis made by Estonian authorities also sheds some light on the reason for the steady increase in popularity of i-voting. After residents experience its benefits, they are more inclined to keep on using i-voting in future elections. Going back to manual vote is simply not an option for them.

There are of course many factors that might influence the growing trend of i-voting in Estonia. Trust in the system, convenience, personality traits and flexibility with regard to the moment of voting and preferred method; stand out, as described by Trechsel & Vassil in their 2011 report. Nevertheless, studies seem to point out at convenience as the single most important aspect valued by voters.

In the age of citizen-centered e-governments, which is coinciding with decreasing electoral participation, it only makes sense for election commissions to begin implementing these kinds of technologies that facilitate the voter experience.  It is a logical step.

Image courtesy of criminalatt / FreeDigitalPhotos.net