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The President of the Republic refused to promulgate an act concerning the possibility of e-voting at the local government council elections

The President of the Republic today at Kadriorg signed a resolution not to promulgate, pursuant to § 107 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, the Local Government Council Election Act Amendment Act passed by the Riigikogu on May 12, 2005.

President Rüütel in his resolution pointed out that the possibility of voting by electronic means provided by Election Acts of the year 2002 and by Referendum Act will in future certainly offer a good chance to increase the percentage of electoral turn-out, and through that also to enhance the legitimacy of state power. The Head of state also stressed the significance of public opinion, which has been mainly supportive towards electronic voting.

"Electronic voting is a necessary additional possibility in the development of our state that helps us to advertise the progress Estonia has made in developing e-governance. The Council of Europe, being in favour of electronic voting, has worked out for its member states recommendations for legal and technical standards. This means that the responsibility of Estonia is even bigger trying to elaborate and introduce to the world our solutions, which should be exemplary, for implementation of modern technology for the benefit of democratic society," the President of the Republic said.

"What concerns the current solution provided by the Act, I would like to remind an old proverb: "Measure twice, cut but once." I think that we have not yet sufficiently deliberated all the problems related to the arrangement of electronic voting that would follow the principle of uniformity and would guarantee the reliability of identification of persons. The Riigikogu has already paid attention to the topic of election advertising, now it is necessary to discuss how to avoid illegal election propaganda in connection with e-voting, which would influence the will of the voters at the wrong time and in the wrong place," the Head of state added.

President Rüütel emphasised that the e-voting might formally increase the voting activity, but would not considerably enhance the civic activity. "Strengthening of participation democracy is of cardinal importance for sustainable development and competitiveness of Estonia. E-voting will remain an additional opportunity within the framework of traditional representation democracy, and will not bring along any decisive change in the worryingly increasing distance between citizens and state power," the Head of state said.

The President of the Republic in his resolution noted that he considered it necessary that the Act passed by the Riigikogu on May 12 had to be deliberated further, and had to be brought into conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.

"§ 15 of the Act passed by the Riigikogu amends § 50 of the Local Government Council Election Act, as the new wording of Subsection 6 gives the voters a right to change the vote electronically. I consider that such provision contradicts the principle that local government council elections shall be uniform as stipulated in Subsection 1, § 156 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.

The principle of uniformity in case of active voting right assumes that each person who has the right to vote is guaranteed the possibility to exercise that right under the same uniform conditions, vote only once, and each vote has to have the same weight. According to the Amendment to the Local Government Council Election Act passed by the Riigikogu, the voter who votes by electronic means has a right to change his or her vote either voting anew electronically or using a ballot paper. The voters who do not use electronic means for voting do not have a possibility to change their vote or to repeat the voting. Consequently, they do not have equal opportunities while exercising their voting rights," President Rüütel wrote in his decision.

The full text of the resolution of the President of the Republic is available

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, May 25, 2005

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