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No e-voting for Latvia any time soon

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Despite their being fewer than 60 days until the next parliamentary elections in Latvia and increased interest in the democratic process, voters should not expect to be able to emulate Estonians and vote electronically any time soon, the country's senior election official said Wednesday.

Arnis Cimdars, chairman of Latvia's Central Electoral Commission (CVK) claimed Wednesday that electronic voting was not secure enough to allow it to be used in Latvian elections – despite the fact that neighboring Estonia has used e-voting successfully since 2005.

"There it happens. They accept it," Cimdars said, noting different mindsets in the two countries.

Speaking on LTV's Rita Panorama morning news show, Cimdars said he thought e-voting would happen “sooner or later” but that debates about its introduction would continue for the foreseeable future.

“According to our experts, it is not possible for us with current technology. We have some mental reservations about this method of voting, too... at the moment it is not possible to ensure the anonymity and security of this method of voting, so I don't think it will happen very soon,” he added.

According to Cimdars, Latvian voters only feel secure if they physically place their paper into a ballot box. e-voting would be open to vote-buying, voting on behalf of others and numerous other democratic dangers, he maintained.

His words run counter to the view of his Estonian counterparts at the Estonian National Electoral Committee, which says online voting is in fact more secure than paper voting.

Estonia has been conducting online balloting since 2005. When a report in UK newspaper The Guardian cast doubts on the security of Estonia's system just ahead of European elections in May this year, it met with a furious rebuttal from officials including President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

“In the past decade, our online balloting has stood up to numerous reviews and security tests. We believe that online balloting allows us to achieve a level of security greater than what is possible with paper ballots,” a statement from Estonian National Electoral Committee said.

“The system has been used in six elections (municipal, national and European) without a single incident which has influenced the outcome. During the municipal elections of October 2013, 21.2% of voters used online balloting, 24.3% in 2011 Parliamentary elections. Online voting is particularly useful for the thousands of Estonians who live, work and travel across the world, enabling them to exercise their civic duty from any corner of the world. In the previous two elections, votes have been cast from 105 countries.”

As previously reported by LSM, on Tuesday CVK received the final applications to participate in October 4 parliamentary elections in which 13 parties and more than 1,000 candidates will battle for 100 seats in the Latvian Saeima.

The election will not be entirely without modern innovations however – for the first time ever, voters without passports will be able to use their electronic ID cards to vote and early voting will be permitted at selected polling stations on October 1, 2 and 3.

Komentāri (1)

Andrea Faulds

Glad to see that Latvia is not going to implement Internet voting. It might be great for voter turnout, but it's incredibly difficult to create a secure system. If academics cannot create one, I have little confidence in Estonia's, and indeed, there are several known flaws in Estonia's system. However, they are ignored by the Estonian government because Internet voting has unfortunately become politicised in Estonia, so any criticism is taken as political propaganda, no matter how legitimate.

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