E-Voting Conference in Estonia (1)

Today, I am attending the “E-Voting: Lessons Learnt and Future Challenges” conference in Tallinn Estonia. The conference is sponsored by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Europe, and the e-Governance Academy. I am hearing the conference in both Estonian and translated English, which is an interesting experience to say the least! I will be blogging each of the four panels from the conference. At the outset, let me note that e-voting is Internet voting for the Estonians.

The Estonian Parliamentary leader is giving a keynote address and he noted that someone has to go first in the process of improving elections and trying new things. He said that there is a saying in Estonia when the young attempt to be smarter than the old that the egg is trying to be smarter than the chicken. Today he noted that in Estonia, there is the situation where the egg is smarter than the chicken because the e-voting is the young thing and offers much more to the population compared to the traditional voting methods. Estonian is a world leader with e-voting. The voters will elect the parliament in 2007 with e-voting being one of the channels for voting.

Voting has to be at the one hand confidential and on the other hand it has to be an auditable and controlled process. He notes that the information society has expanded across Estonia with internet connectivity throughout the state, as shown by the 58 percent of Estonians who have computers and internet access. In addition, Estonians have digital signatures as part of the national identification system. They have developed the habit of using e-services, with the young and old alike using the internet in everyday life. Using it for voting is an obvious next step.