E-elections

Estonia e-election of the Parliament of 2011 took place from 24 of February till 2 of March. Altogether there were 140 846 people who used the possibility of voting online which is about 24.5 % of all the voters. In this essay I will write about the social and ethical aspects of the e-election as well of the IT systems and the impact of the online voting on Estonian society.

E-elections help the immobile or those who live in remote places. The main idea behind e-elections is to provide an opportunity to all people to have a comfortable voting experience. E-elections provide a possibility for the voters to vote from their own homes and what could be more comfortable than voting from one’s own household. The fact that there is a possibility to perform the voting in one’s own home means that those who are immobile or live in remote places and the access to their voting precinct is limited have a possibility to vote and thus make changes in the governing of their country. According to Internet World Stats 75.1% of the Estonian population uses internet as of June 2010. The percentage is obviously larger than the participation percentage so definitely e-elections bring voting to a larger audience and make their experience more comfortable.

The IT systems used in e-elections are unreliable. The main issue about the e-elections is that none of the votes can be controlled as there is no physical trace of the voting process. In an Estonian TV Show Pealtnägija man named Paavo Pihelgas proved that the IT systems of the e-election can be manipulated. He proved that without the knowledge of the voter or the Republic’s Voting Committee the votes can be made to disappear. It works so that the voter casts a vote but the   Republic’s Voting Committee does not receive the vote as it is caught by a third party who wants to manipulate the voting results but the voter gets the feedback that the voting process has been completed. This flaw means that the voting results of the e-elections are not reliable and that is also why Centre Party gave in an application to annul the voting results of the elections.

E-elections lead to corruption in politics. It is clear that politicians and parties use all possible techniques to manipulate the voters to vote for them. There are numerous misdemeanours in the way politicians and parties advertise themselves. Advertisements tend to change the mind of the voters and thus there is a rule that no public advertisements are allowed on the streets month prior the Election Day. But this rule does not include advertisements in the Internet. This means that voters might see ads just seconds before conducting their vote in the e-election system resulting in their change of mind of whom to vote for. This is something that will never happen when voting in the local precinct. This kind of manipulation using advertisements seconds prior to voting means that the politicians and parties are not chosen because of their premises or actions but how good their ads are.

The e-elections of the Parliament surely have up and downsides. The IT systems might not be as secure and the rules of advertising do not apply to Internet but e-elections still bring voting to a larger audience and help the immobile and people in remote areas. Also one must not forget that it is due to the e-elections that Estonia is considered to be one of the leading e-countries in the world.