Parliament is looking to amend the electronic voting procedure in such a way as to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly. Starting from 2005, e-voting has been used in five elections in Estonia. In order to make the system more reliable and trustworthy, legislators are now looking for a way to make it possible for voters to check whether their votes have been registered correctly. This solution was proposed in response to the concerns that arose during the last elections regarding the possibility of voters’ computers being tampered with, reported ETV. ”In the case of a virus that blocks voting, a person may think that he has voted, when in fact the vote has not reached the system. This is why we came up with the idea of giving voters an opportunity to check their votes,” said Reform Party MP and member of Parliament’s Constitutional Committee Andrei Korobeinik. According to him, the voter’s computer is the weakest link in the chain and vote checking is one of the most complicated issues being tackled at the moment. “The initial idea is that the voter will be shown an image that he can photograph off the screen using his mobile phone, and then the system will tell him whether his vote has been registered correctly or not,” he explained.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Estonia.
Yesterday, July 20, the City of Tallinn bolstered its drive to bar the nation’s much-touted e-voting system from local elections, holding a press conference where prominent US computer scientist Barbara Simons said that such systems are inherently vulnerable.
The University of California, Berkeley PhD and former Association for Computing Machinery president spoke about risks such as malware, attacks on the server managing the election, insider threats and false websites.
Speaking in general terms, not about Estonia’s system in particular, she said that the nature of e-voting makes it impossible to audit or recount the votes. She also warned of the possibility of software viruses or worms that could infect a computer, casting votes without the user’s knowledge.
Barbara Simons, a reputable expert on IT-safety, who is visiting Tallinn, claims that as internet becomes more and more dangerous, most of the internet experts are certain that e-voting is everything but safe, writes Raepress.
Simons said that cyber criminals are able to gather all kinds of information and even attack different governments – as Russian hackers did with Estonian internet systems. Simons added that allegedly, the computer virus that attacked Iran was released by specialists from Israel and USA.
Simons was in Tallinn Town Hall yesterday, taking part in a forum dedicated to e-voting and today will hold a public lecture titled “Time is not ripe for e-voting”. On Wednesday Simons will give a press conference as well.
In the spring of 2007, Estonia became the first nation to face a coordinated, nationwide cyberattack when a series of electronic bombardments struck down media, telecommunications, government and banking websites. Digital traffic from servers as far away as Peru, Vietnam and the United States flooded Estonian websites, drowning them in superfluous data. The attack knocked telephone exchanges offline for more than an hour, jeopardizing emergency services. It knocked out media and government portals, leaving citizens in an information vacuum. Beginning April 29, three waves of attacks during a two week period severely disrupted the ordinary tasks that fuel modern economies — shopping, pumping gas, withdrawing cash from automatic teller machines. A significant act of cyberterrorism posed an economic and political threat in a way no modern economy had previously experienced.
On June 9, the Parliament’s Constitutional Committee established a working group tasked with shoring up regulations related to the country’s much-touted e-voting system.
… Though Estonia’s groundbreaking national e-voting system, introduced in 2005, is widely considered reliable by international observers, it came under fire last month after an OSCE review found a number of legal and procedural holes in the way it was being used.
Ahead of spring elections, Agu Kivimägi was tasked with trying to ensure that online voting in Estonia wasn’t vulnerable to attack. Its pioneering system of casting national ballots via the Internet would be a hacker’s prize target.
After the ballots were counted, returning Estonia’s center-right government to power, e-voting escaped assault – or any technical difficulties, for that matter. Mr. Kivimägi, who oversees computer security for Estonia’s Interior department, is part of the world’s first volunteer cyberarmy, deployed this year to help ward off hacker strikes and defend against online warfare.
Made up of Estonia’s best information technology (IT) minds, from programmers to lawyers, the 150-member Cyber Defense League is Estonia’s cyber national guard. Should Estonia come under attack, they would deploy under the command of the National Defense League, a volunteer force created to safeguard the country’s security and independence.
The Tallinn City Council has filed a motion with the Supreme Court to abolish e-voting at future local elections. City Council Chairman Toomas Vitsut says there are “questionable aspects” to the current regulations on e-voting.
Although the voting system introduced in 2005 is considered one of Estonia’s success stories, and security concerns are generally dismissed in an era of “hanging chads” and other irregularities with paper ballots, Vitsut made it clear he was talking about a different aspect.
“Voters who use different voting options make their decisions in conditions that are legally completely different,” he said. “Some can change their vote repeatedly while others cannot. Thus the elections are not uniform.”
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), an agency of the the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitored the March 6 2011 parliamentary elections in Estonia and published its report on the elections on Monday. The organisation recommends to supplement and specify the legislation governing e-voting. (Read the Report (PDF))
After the internet ballot-counting system temporarily crashed on Election Day evening, the National Electoral Committee said it will demand compensation from Helmes, the company responsible for the country’s vote-counting software.
“Quality requirements [...] are listed in our contract and if there is a one-time delay of 15 minutes, then there are sanctions for every minute delayed. We need to add it up, but the total sum is around 8,500 euros,” committee Chairman Heiki Sibul told uudised.err.ee.
More than 20,000 people have already given their votes electronically in e-voting that started on Independence Day and continues until March 2 at 20:00.