Estonia: The world’s longest standing, most advanced internet voting solution

The Estonian i-voting solution is the longest-standing, most technologically advanced, and trusted internet voting solution in existence. It has been used to support binding elections since 2005. Since 2014, Smartmatic has collaborated in the development of this solution.

Online voting is one of several channels offered to Estonian voters. They can also vote by mail and traditional pen-and-paper voting at polling places.

The i-voting solution was developed to provide an additional voting channel that is accessible, convenient, and secure. Having kept all these promises, it has also proven to be cost-efficient.

The growing popularity of online voting

Since the introduction of i-voting in Estonia, voter participation has risen continuously.

The 2021 local elections marked a new milestone: 47% of Estonian voters chose to vote online. This represents a considerable increase compared to the 2017 local elections.

Promoting democratic participation

Online voting is a perfect solution for voters demanding a more convenient way to participate. Evidence links the use of online voting to increased turnout rates: 5% in national elections and 1.5% in local elections.

Convenient, Yet Cost-Efficient

Online voting not only increases participation, it also reduces the government’s cost to operate elections. According to a 2018 study conducted by Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia, an electronic ballot submitted via the internet can cost the country 10 times less than a vote cast in advance voting at a polling center.

Multichannel Voting for Enhanced Democratic Participation

Estonian authorities offer voters multiple channels to participate in elections. All voters have the option to head to a polling station to cast a ballot using pen and paper, or to cast a ballot in advance (by mail or using remote electronic voting).

All Estonia citizens who use the i-vote solution can vote multiple times but only the last vote is sent to the tabulation and ultimately counted. Any vote in person prevails over any online vote by that same person. The objective of this strategy is to mitigate coercion. If a voter is forced to vote in a certain way, the voter can change their vote in another session.

Smartmatic in Estonia

In 2014, Smartmatic partnered with Cybernetica to establish the Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting (SCCEIV) in Estonia. The Cybernetica IT lab built the first internet voting solution used in Estonia 2005. SCCEIV comprises a multidisciplinary group of election experts that work to advance online voting.

Since the SCEEIV was established, it has delivered its technology and services for use in four national elections: 2015 Parliamentary, 2017 Local Councils, 2019 Parliamentary, 2019 European Union, and 2021 Local Councils.