E-voting in Estonia's 2007 parliament elections

February 08, 2007

We are going to have parliament elections in Estonia on March 4, 2007. And this is my voting station.

My e-voting station

We’re going to be the first country doing a binding e-vote in the parliament elections. And to me, it’s very practical, as I’m currently staying elsewhere. On the voting day, I will be hundreds of klicks from the nearest voting station at some Estonian embassy and more than a thousand klicks from Estonia itself, and if I wanted to vote at an embassy, I would have to sign up beforehand and go through a lot of hoops. But now on the Internet, I can just sign in with my ID card and get it done.

The ID card is the cornerstone to enabling the voting. See more about the card at id.ee.

As for the voting itself, there’s now an English information page available. I previously linked to a bunch of publications.

So to vote over the Internet, you need a computer with Internet, smart card reader and your ID card. All of these can be reused for other purposes, be it e-banking or tax declaration or whatever else there may be ongoing in e-Estonia. So there was nothing special I had to do or buy to get going with e-voting. Also I don’t need to register or anything, because the government knows that I’m an eligible voter as I’m registered properly in the population database.

A note to foreigners

Differently from the 2005 municipal elections where pretty much all residents of Estonia can vote, the parliament election is open only to citizens. However, your citizenship status is not checked during the trial vote (the trial goes on until Feb 19 2007). This means that if you are a foreigner holding a valid Estonian ID card, you can try out the trial voting but you can’t vote in the real thing. So go ahead and try it out “while supplies last” :)

The interface

It’s pretty straightforward and here’s a screenshot walkthrough. It’s in Estonian only, as that is our official language.

Application starting up. Not much interesting here.

Step 1. Loading

Assuming your card is in the reader (if it’s not, you’ll get an error), you then need to enter the PIN1 code for it for authentication.

Step 2. Enter PIN1 for authentication

A generic info page.

Step 3. Information

You then pick the candidate you like most. In this trial vote, the question is “Who is the king of the forest” and you can choose between wild boar, elk, deer, wolf, lynx and some others. There is hot debate going on about if the results will be published :-)

Step 4. Select candidate

You then see a confirmation screen with your selection.

Step 5. Confirm choice

You click “confirm” on the confirmation screen and the program asks you to enter the PIN2 code for signing and confirming your vote.

Step 6. Enter PIN2 for confirmation

The last screen with information and confirmation. You’re done.

Step 7. Done