Author Archives: robertkrimmer

No Electronic Voting in Egypt

After some back and forth (including talks with India to use their EVM’s as well as some visions on Internet voting for Egyptians living abroad) the communications minister finally announced not to use electronic voting due to high costs in Egypt for now.

No electronic voting for Egypt, says minister
The Minister of Communications and Information Technology cites cost and lack of preparation as reasons why electronic voting will not be used in the next presidential election

Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Maged Othman announced in a press conference today that Egypt will not use electronic voting in the next presidential election.

Othman said electronic voting is currently too costly and requires extensive preparation to ensure the voting process is transparent and everyone is able to vote.

Othman also said Egypt will begin manufacturing the machines needed for electronic voting instead of importing them from overseas.

He added that currently the ministry is preparing the voting lists for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The minister also said that Egyptians will be able to vote using their national ID cards both in Egypt and overseas and that Egyptian embassies will oversee the voting process outside of Egypt.

See here

Final Report on Estonia 2011 Riigikogu Elections

Today, ODIHR released its final report of the EAM to Estonia. Aside of looking at national minority issues, it has been the second time that the Internet voting process in Estonia was focus of the assessment. Download the full report here.

In line with OSCE commitments, the Minister of Foreign of Affairs of Estonia invited the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) to observe the 6 March 2011 elections to the Riigikogu (Parliament). Based on the recommendation of a Needs Assessment Mission, the OSCE/ODIHR deployed an Election Assessment Mission (EAM) for these elections.
The Riigikogu elections were conducted in an environment characterized by respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and a high degree of trust in the impartiality of the election administration. Election stakeholders expressed confidence in the overall process, including the Internet voting. Voters had an opportunity to make an informed choice among a field of candidates representing a variety of political alternatives.
The legal framework generally provides an adequate legal basis for the conduct of democratic elections in accordance with OSCE commitments and other international standards, although it is of concern that large parts of the Internet voting remain unregulated. The legislative framework for complaints and appeals is generally adequate for resolving electoral disputes in
line with international standards. While citizenship is recognized as an admissible restriction to suffrage, in particular for elections for national office, it is of concern that a significant group of long-term residents with undetermined citizenship, amounting to some seven per cent of the total population, do not have the right to vote or stand as candidates in national elections. They can however vote, but
not stand as candidates, at local elections.
OSCE/ODIHR EAM interlocutors in general expressed a high level of confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and transparency of the election administration. While the Election Act provides for a wide range of voting methods, the procedures put in place to prevent multiple voting generally provide for effective safeguards.
Voters could cast their ballots via the Internet during the advance voting period from 24 February to 2 March. Despite concerns raised by some interlocutors, the OSCE/ODIHR EAM in general found widespread trust in the conduct of the Internet voting by the National Electoral Committee (NEC). However, there is scope for further improvement of the legal framework, oversight and accountability, and some technical aspects of the Internet voting system.
The campaign took place in a calm atmosphere, and all contestants were able to campaign freely. Prohibition of the outdoor political advertising remained in place. In some instances, activities of the local governments blurred the distinction between the state and the governing party at local level or were perceived as advantaging one of the electoral contestants.
A new Committee on Monitoring the Funding of Political Parties was constituted after the elections, charged with monitoring contenders’ compliance with regulations on campaign finance. Some OSCE/ODIHR EAM interlocutors expressed regret that the Penal Code no longer prescribes criminal liability for receipt of illegal donations.
The media environment is diverse and provided voters with a range of viewpoints through informative and inclusive broadcast debates and coverage in the Internet. However, there is a lack of an autonomous regulatory authority able to set clear rules on campaign coverage and monitor media compliance with the rules.
There are neither legal barriers to the participation of women in political life nor legal provisions to encourage it. Women’s participation in political life is relatively low. No political party was led by a woman and only 20 out of 101 elected MPs are women, down from the 24 in the outgoing Riigikogu.
Issues related to national minorities did not feature prominently in the campaign. Political parties made varying degrees of effort to include persons belonging to national minorities on their candidate lists and to reach out to Russian-speaking voters. Despite some provision of election information in Russian, weak Estonian language skills may present an obstacle to national minorities’ participation in the electoral process.
Few formal complaints were filed before the NEC or the Supreme Court concerned, inter alia, disenfranchisement of the convicted prisoners and alleged lack of reliability, secrecy and security of the Internet voting. All complaints were rejected as being ungrounded or for not being filed within the deadline.
In accordance with the OSCE/ODIHR methodology, the OSCE/ODIHR EAM did not include short-term election observers and did not conduct a comprehensive and systematic observation of election-day proceedings. However, mission members visited a limited number of polling stations on election day. Voting in the limited number of polling stations visited proceeded in a calm manner. The election committees in general worked efficiently and followed the procedures. The vote count was for the most part conducted in an efficient, orderly and
transparent manner. Voter turnout was recorded at 63.5 percent.
A number of recommendations in this report set out ways in which the electoral process may be further improved. The OSCE/ODIHR stands ready to work with the Estonian authorities to address these recommendations.

OSCE/ODIHR Human Dimension Seminar discusses E-democracy next week

Next week, OSCE/ODIHR is organizing a session on electronic democracy at the annual HDS here in Warsaw/Poland from 18-20 May 2011.

Questions to be discussed by the participants include:

  • How e-democracy tools have been able to increase internal party democracy, in
    particular by increasing citizen input into (party) policy and manifesto
    development, and candidate selection;
  • The impact of e-tools on political campaigning, including through tools for
    citizens to compare and contrast party programmes, for citizen grass-roots
    organizing within political campaigns
  • E-tools for increasing accountability and transparency; for instance, monitoring
    political and campaign finance; keeping track of parliamentarians’ assets,
    interests, activity and voting records;
  • How e-tools have increased possibilities for citizen input into policy making,
    legislation drafting and decision making processes (e.g. through e-petitions,
    public commenting on draft legislation);
  • The possible impact of e-tools on the participation of groups that are
    socioeconomically, geographically, culturally, or physically disadvantaged, and
    are as such often under-represented in public and political life; Whether or not etools
    are actually able to reach out to otherwise excluded groups of citizens or if
    they are only “engaging the already engaged”;
  • What lessons can be learned from projects to use e-democracy tools; what
    potential pitfalls should be considered; How this work has evolved, and in which
    direction it should go.

More information (incl. registration) at

Observation reports and upcoming missions

In the last month OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has been very active to publish a couple of reports on recent missions. These were:

Final Report Limited Observation Mission to Latvia.

Final Report Election Assessment Mission to USA.

Final Report Election Observation Mission to Kyrgysztan.

Final Report Election Observation Mission to Azerbaijan.

Final Report Election Observation Mission to Moldowa.

Needs Assessment Mission Report to Estonia.

Special interest goes of course to the Mission to Estonia, where Internet voting will be deployed again for the March 6 Parliamentary elections. OSCE ODIHR will deploy an Election Assessment Mission there.

European Parliament passes European Citizen Initiative (ECI)

The European Parliament passed the ECI yesterday (for a guidebook on it, see my previous post).

The key facts are:

– a citizen committee (individuals, not organizations) from at least 7 EU member states can initiate an ECI initiative.
– it can be in any of the official EU languages
– at least one million citizens from a ‘significant number’ of member countries have to support an ECI to be successful
– in case of success, the commission has 3 months to react to the ECI.
– the commission will offer an open-source online-tool to support the initiatives
– first ECI’s are expected in 2012, as soon as all member countries have updated their legislation.

The press release reads:

Commission welcomes agreement on European Citizens’ Initiative

The European Commission warmly welcomes today’s agreement on the European Citizens’ Initiative, which will for the first time allow citizens to directly suggest new EU legislation. An innovation contained in the Lisbon Treaty, the ECI will allow at least one million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to bring forward legislative proposals in areas where the Commission has the power to do so. The organisers of a Citizens’ Initiative, a citizens’ committee composed of at least seven citizens who are residents of at least seven different Member States, will have one year to collect signatures and the Commission will have three months to examine an initiative and decide how to act on it. On request of the Council, the legislation on the European Citizens’ Initiative will start applying only one year after it is published in the Official Journal, meaning that the first initiatives can be considered from early 2012.

“I’m delighted that the Parliament and Council have managed to reach agreement on the Citizens’ Initiative so quickly” said Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration. “The ECI will introduce a whole new form of participatory democracy to the EU. It is a major step forward in the democratic life of the Union. It’s a concrete example of bringing Europe closer to its citizens. And it will foster a cross border debate about what we are doing in Brussels and thus contribute, we hope, to the development of a real European public space..”

What form will a Citizens’ Initiative take?

An initiative must be backed by at least one million citizens from at least one quarter of the Member States. In each of these Member States, the minimum number of signatures required will be calculated by multiplying the number of Members of the European Parliament from that country by a factor of 750. The minimum age for signatories will be the age at which people are entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections. Proposed initiatives must be registered on an online register made available by the Commission – registration can be refused if the initiative is manifestly against the fundamental values of the EU or manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to propose the requested legal act. The statements of support can be collected on paper or on-line, and the organisers will have one year to collect the necessary signatures after the Commission has confirmed the registration of the proposal. In order to facilitate and secure online collection of statements of support, the Commission will develop technical standards and set up and maintain open source software, available free of charge.

How will the Commission deal with an initiative?

Once the signatures have been collected and verified by the Member States, the citizens’ initiative has to be submitted to the Commission. From that moment, the Commission will have three months to examine the request made by the citizens. Meanwhile, the organisers will be received at the Commission and they will also have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing organised at the European Parliament. The Commission will then set out in a public document its conclusions on the initiative and the action, if any, it intends to take and will explain its reasoning..


The agreement seeks to ensure that the procedures for launching a Citizens’ Initiative are simple, user-friendly and accessible to all, and should not be too burdensome for national authorities. It is important that this new feature of the democratic process should be credible, should fully assure the need for data protection and should not be open to abuse or fraud. While it does not affect the Commission’s right of legislative initiative, the Citizens’ Initiative will oblige the Commission to give serious consideration to a request supported by at least 1 million citizens.

New book on >Communication et deliberation< by Laurence Monnoyer Smith

Book by Laurence Monnoyer Smith

Our fellow colleague Laurence Monnoyer Smith just published a new book – with a preface by Stephen Coleman – on deliberation through new technologies. It’s in French for those of you interested.

The content:

Préface de Stephen COLEMAN
1. Lorsque la communication inquiète
2. TIC et participation : aller au-delà de l’utopie
3. Dépasser le clivage entre technique et culture
4. Des pratiques participatives reconfigurées
5. Les origines des dispositifs techniques du débat public
6. Pour une théorie communication nelle du débat public
Annexe 1. L’Europe en perspective : quelques repères
Annexe 2. Préface de Stephen Coleman, traduction

Handbook on Electoral Justice

International IDEA recently released their new handbook on electoral justice. Quite useful!

An effective electoral justice system is a key element in the unfolding of a free, fair and genuine democratic process. Without a system to mitigate and manage inequality or perceptions of inequality, even the best management of an electoral process may lead to mistrust in the legitimacy of the elected government.

This Handbook examines the concept of electoral justice and how to prevent electoral disputes. Using examples from countries such as Afghanistan, Argentina, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, France, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, it will assist any country with the design and implementation of an electoral justice system that best suits their situation.

Download the Handbook here