E-elections

E-elections are conducted online and have become popular in Estonia since 2005. According to this years statistics the total count of votes was 140 846 all over Estonia. The distribution of votes over the days was quite equal but on the last day the electronic voting skyrocketed into the top compared to the previous days. In this essay I am going to touch upon the three aspects of the ITGS triangle: IT systems, area of impact and of course social and ethical concerns. My sources are from the Estonian Republic Elections Commission and from some articles in Postimees.

The IT systems in the Estonian e-elections are very untrustworthy and unreliable. There are a couple of reasons for this lack of inadequacy. The first reason being the fact which Paavo Pihelgas in and article in Postimees said that Estonia is using the outdated e-election system which is insecure and prone to errors. If the whole system is out to date then it is east to make an attack on it and then manipulate the results that are being sent to the commission. As Paavo demonstrated in the article that it is easy to install a virus into the computers of voters and then change the outcome of the votes. The principle of this virus would be then to let through all of the votes for a party that is approved and all the others are just blocked in reaching the commission at all. Hence it is exceedingly easy to give a huge advantage for one party and leave the others in the mud. Another negative side of this system is that since it is impossible to make sure who has voted online then many votes can be forged. If somebody takes somebody’s ID number for some money and then votes with that then this leads to manipulated election results. Also if a person votes online then who is there to stop them from voting using the conventional methods also? The answer is nobody because the online voting system is anonymous and untraceable. Due to these reasons there have been three people in Estonia who have filed complaints against the e-election system so that the results would not be taken into account. Paavo Pihelgas, Ülo Palover and Igor Kukolev are the three men who are protesting against this untrustworthy and outdated system by taking it to the highest power- the Supreme Court.

I believe the area of impact or possibility of e-elections changing anything permanently is mostly comfort and accessibility. People who use the Internet on a regular basis and are accustomed to the computer would most definitely prefer to use the online version rather than driving to the nearest place where it is possible to vote. Also for persons who live outside of town in very remote places would find it better to vote from their homes instead of driving lets say 50 kilometers into town and then back home. But this change in comfort is more for the younger generation who dabble in electronics on a regular basis. The older generation still value the conventional voting with pieces of paper on anonymous booths. Older people and some younger individuals think that this system is more secure in that it is harder to manipulate the overall result but actually there are some flaws which Ülo Palover brought out that this year the ballet boxes were not sealed shut with the official seal and were transported from building to building. In my opinion the e-elections have a overall impact in the sense that more people are using it to vote thus this could have an impact on the unfair advantages that can be misused by some computer viruses which were mentioned above.

The use of this online voting system may lead to even more corruption in todays political system. What’s to stop a political party in tilting the whole election in their favor. This would completely devastate the political system because then nothing would be decided by honest means unless of course the security is not tightened. This could ultimately lead to a nation wide riot and huge instability in the entire country. Another problem that may arise is the fact that a vast majority is not capable of using the internet or a computer at all. So if to remove the conventional methods then this puts this group at a disadvantage. Of course it is possible to adapt but this means that this new system is forced onto them and this is in violation of human rights. People should have the choice whether to vote online or with a sheet of paper and pen.

Overall I think that in Estonia we do not have so many individuals who would decide to hack the elections and then tilt the result in somebody’s favor but then again one can never be to sure. I think that for now the election went well, maybe there were some duplications of votes or other minor infringements but nothing major. I believe that the system is outdated and should be improved so that it is safe to vote and people can actually trust the results without issuing complaints to the Supreme Court.