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i-Voting. Learning from Estonia

Internet voting, or 'i-voting', is a system that allows voters to cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer or mobile anywhere in the world. With a national ID card and incorporate with mobile ID, the voters can cast secured votes.

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Written by DeletedUser

Unrelated to the electronic voting systems used elsewhere, which involve costly and problematic machinery, the Estonian solution is simple, elegant and secure.

During a designated pre-voting period, the voter logs onto the system using a ID card or Mobile ID, and casts a ballot. The voter's identity is removed from the ballot before it reaches the National Electoral Commission for counting, thereby ensuring anonymity.

With any method of remote voting, including traditional mail-in ballots, the possibility of votes being forced or bought is a concern. Estonia's solution was to allow voters to log on and vote as many times as they want during the pre-voting period. Since each vote cancels the last, a voter always has the option of changing his or her vote later.

In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to hold nation-wide elections using this method, and in 2007, it made headlines as the first country to use i-voting in parliamentary elections.

Thanks to its convenience, i-voting is proving highly popular with the Estonian electorate. In the Parliamentary elections 2011, 24,3 percent of voters cast their ballots in this way.


  • Convenience for voters, particularly those who are traveling outside the country or in areas away from their local polling stations.
  • Potential increase in voter turnout
  • Cost savings from fewer paper ballots having to be entered

In Numbers

Percentage of votes cast using i-voting:

  • 1.9% - Local Elections 2005
  • 5.5% - Parliamentary Elections 2007
  • 14.7% - European Parliament Elections 2009
  • 15.8% - Local Elections 2009
  • 24,3% - Parliamentary Elections 2011


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Jablow

Great local insights Cathy! I'm particularly intrigued by the idea that you can vote as many times as you want, with each vote canceling out the last!

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I agree! I think the idea of changing your vote is very neat. I also like the fact that it's very green and convenient! One potential concern might be internet security because I know for one that's why many countries are reluctant to use i-voting.

Photo of DeletedUser


When it comes to e-gov related topics, people are usually quite skeptical on the security issue. The e-gov system implemented in Estonia handles this problem with a common ground called "x-road". It means that data is not actually transmitted directly from ministry to ministry (or in some cases, private clients). The processing of the data, or the so-called application layer, all happens in the x-road. Ministries have their own proxies to connect to x-road, and have full control/monitoring of data transactions.