Parliament overrides presidential veto on e-voting

  • 2005-06-29
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - On June 28 Parliament overrode a presidential veto on the amended Local Elections Act that lays out the possibility of casting ballots via the Internet.

President Arnold Ruutel had rejected the amended Local Elections Act first in May and then again on June 22. He said that Parliament had not changed a provision in the law allowing citizens who cast their ballot over the Internet to change their electronic vote an unlimited number of times during the period of advance voting. This, in his opinion, contradicts the local elections' principle of uniformity as set out in Section 1 of Article 156 of the Constitution.

The amended law received 52 votes for and none against.

Lawmakers backed the constitutional committee, which expressed the opinion that the law should be passed unchanged. Committee members said the possibility of changing a vote cast over the Internet was a precondition of the constitutionality of e-voting, since each voter must have the opportunity to make their choice freely and without external influence.

The committee also believes this would be the most effective way to prevent vote buying.

The panel also disagreed with the president when it came to election uniformity. The generally accepted principle of uniformity, according to the constitutional committee, means that all voters have equal opportunities to affect the election outcome and that only one vote counts. The e-voting system also secures that this condition is met, the panel said.

As the committee sees it, the president's motives in rejecting the law are more likely political, the Baltic News Service reported.

The constitutional committee said e-voting would be possible by this autumn's local polls, regardless of whether or not the amended law goes into force before the elections. More than 4 million kroons (255,600 euros) have been spent on developing an IT solution for casting votes over the Internet.

The committee argued that online voting was consistent with the principles of democratic elections, and this in turn was confirmed by documents from the Council of Europe.

The president can either approve the law or refer it to the Supreme Court.