In 2005 Estonia became the first country in the world to have nation-wide local elections where people could cast binding votes over the internet. This world premiere was followed by successful implementation of e-voting at all levels of elections: local, national and European. As of 2016, Estonia has held eight elections over ten years, where people could cast legally binding votes over the internet.
In addition to that the number of online public services that governmental offices offer to their “customers” are widely accepted and used by Estonian citizens and residents. Digital identification, the foundation stone of modern digital democracy, is compulsory for all citizens.
Kristjan Vassil, author of the book and Senior Research Fellow in Technology Research at the University of Tartu said that in 2014 digital IDs were used more than 80 million times for authentication and 35 million times for digital transactions, significant numbers in a country with a population of only 1.3 million.
“Regarding user attitudes and behaviour, survey evidence suggests that online governmental services are regarded as trustworthy and reliable. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how Estonian e-government in general and internet voting in particular has had an impact on an individual’s behavioural? In this book we address precisely this question,” said Vassil.
The president of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves writes in the foreword: “In Estonia we can see a version of the interconnected and computerized future that is inextricably a part of the fundamental operations of society. Today we realise that our openness to technological changes has certainly helped our country to succeed. We have simply done things that would also be easy for others. The digital prescription and digital signature, as well as Internet elections could be available all across Europe and elsewhere.”
„I am glad that by this book Estonia will add a valuable paragraph to the global history of Internet voting. The book provides an empirically-based account of the behavioral aspects of Internet voting. Moreover, if other countries are planning to modernize their elections, they will find valuable evidence how much the effects of modernization depend on a country’s political, technological and social context.“
The book was published in cooperation with the Estonian National Electoral Committee. The book covers the research results of the 10 past years and is 244 pages long. Authors of the book are Kristjan Vassil and Mihkel Solvak from the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies.
Original article published by University of Tartu