The Electronic Voting Committee yesterday revealed the source code of its server software, opening up technical analysis of the e-elections system to the public. “This is the next step toward a transparent system. The idea, which was the result of joint discussion between numerous Estonian IT experts and the Electronic Voting Committee, was implemented today. We welcome the fact that experts representing civil society want to contribute to the development and security of the e-elections,” said committee chairman Tarvi Martens. Although the source code was accessible before, it required the requester to sign a confidentiality contract. Estonia’s e-voting system has been used for five elections – including general, local and European Parliament elections – since it was introduced in 2005. In the 2011 general elections, 24.3 percent of the votes cast were done so by e-vote, according to the National Electoral Committee. A new feature at the coming October local government elections is an Android-based electronic receipt of sorts that allows a voter to verify if their e-ballot went through properly.
Estonia is sometimes dubbed E-stonia for services such as e-taxes, e-school, e-medicine and other innovative, bureaucracy and cost-cutting public services.
Although the country’s pioneering voting system, introduced in 2005, is considered a success story, and security concerns are generally dismissed, it has naturally also been controversial. That has mainly played out in a feud between the prime minister’s party and the opposition party run by Tallinn’s mayor (who was notably more popular among ballot voters than e-voters in 2009).
In one episode, Tartu University student Paavo Pihelgas discovered a theoretical security hole making it possible for a virus to block votes to certain candidates without the voter knowing that tampering occurred. Pihelgas came forward after the 2011 general elections, where 24.3 percent of votes were cast online.
The student petitioned the Estonian Supreme Court to invalidate the electronic voting results. On March 21 the court’s Constitutional Review Chamber rejected his petition on the grounds that it lacked substance – no actual manipulation had been found nor had an impact on the election’s outcome been established.
Days afterward, the Center Party, which fared relatively poorly in the elections, attempted to have the results annulled based partly on the student’s findings, saying there were significant deficiencies in the electronic voting system. Later, the party unsuccessfully attempted to put an end to e-voting through legal avenues.
Full Article: E-Voting Source Code Made Public | Politics | News | ERR.