Tiny Estonia Beats the U.S. on E-Voting

Monday, November 04, 2013 - 01:00 AM

The tiny Baltic nation of Estonia puts the United States to shame when it comes to electronic voting (not to mention marinated eel served cold and teaching little kids to code.)

In 2005, Estonians became the first voters to cast ballots online thanks to innovative ID cards and a special card reader that allows citizens to vote from home or anywhere with an internet connection.

"Instead of going five kilometers uphill in a snowstorm to the voting booth, it would make more sense to stay home and just click a mouse," Tarvi Martens, chairman of Estonia's Electronic Voting Committee told Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC's New Tech City

The day before elections in the US, little Estonia has some tips on running democracy.


Tarvi Martens

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Daniel P. Tucker


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Comments [1]

Unfortunately, Estonia is not an example we should emulate. I am a computer scientist, retired from IBM Research, who has been working on election integrity issues for many years. Because of my election-related work, I was invited to visit Estonia by the Mayor of Tallinn in 2011. The mayor and his party (the Centre Party) believed that the internet portion of the election had been rigged. While I couldn't confirm their suspicions, because there is no way to conduct a recount of an internet election, neither could I disprove them. I could say, however, that Internet voting in Estonia is highly insecure because a) the election official's computer is vulnerable to attack, b) the voter's computer is at risk of being infected with an election rigging virus, and c) there is the risk (as in all elections) of insider fraud. In fact, the project manager could update election software without any formal procedure or oversight. I am not accusing the project manager of rigging the election, but I am saying that his ability to make software updates on his own is a huge security hole.

A short description of my observations is at

The bottom line is that a portion of the Estonian population believes that their national elections are being rigged by cheating on the internet portion of the election, and it's impossible to prove or disprove that assertion. Such distrust of election results is very unhealthy for a democracy.

Nov. 06 2013 03:45 PM

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