E-voting idea runs into difficulties

  • 2001-03-22
  • BNS
TALLINN - An expert from the leading Estonian data security services company AS Privador has called premature the authorities' optimism regarding the possibility to take voting online in national elections soon.

The specialist, Jaanus Kase, said in his remarks to the business daily Aripaev that with the present level of development of the Internet the risk of irregularities and violations was too serious to conduct voting on the web.

The U.S. National Science Foundation issued a report on March 6 in which a committee of experts called for further research into complex security and reliability obstacles that impede the Internet's use in public elections.

Trials should proceed in which Internet terminals are used at traditional polling places, but remote voting from home or the workplace is not viable in the near future, according to the report.

"E-voting requires a much greater level of security than e-commerce Ð it's not like buying a book over the Internet," said University of Maryland President C.D. Mote, Jr., who chaired the committee. "Remote Internet voting technology will not be able to meet this standard for years to come."

On March 15 Estonian Justice Minister Mart Rask met with leaders of Election.com, an international company specializing in the organization of e-elections, which offered its experience to Estonia.

"Estonia has been successful in information technology development, but our aspirations are higher," Rask said during his meeting with Election.com Vice President Regis Jasmin and technological solutions director Gregg McGilvray.

"We are interested in all kinds of information exchange that can promote the e-elections project," Rask added.

Regis Jasmin said Internet elections are already a reality. "We organized successful pre-elections in the state of Arizona in the United States. As the circumstances there are very similar to Estonia, our experience will certainly be of help to Estonia."

Nevertheless, the International Council for Information Technology in State Administration decided to hold its 37th annual conference in Estonia, expressing recognition to Estonia's achievements in the application of information technology in the public sector.

The annual conference of the organization will take place in Tallinn in 2003, the Transport and Communications Ministry reported.

This year, the world countries' IT heads will meet in Berlin and in 2002 in Singapore.

The International Council for Information Technology in State Administration is a world organization with mostly developed countries among its members. Members are selected on the basis of their actual potential for contributing to the development of information policy.

Estonia is one of three full members of the organization from Central and Eastern Europe.

Estonia's comparison with other ICA member countries has revealed that the state assigns a relatively small proportion of its budget on information technology, but has still brought its information systems to a level permitting it to be a cooperation partner to be reckoned with.

Estonia is actively sharing the IT experience with other countries, and recent cooperation projects involved Finland and Uzbekistan. The state secretary, Aino Lepik, presented the Estonian e-government project in Finland March 15 to 16.

The aim of Lepik's visit was to inform the Finnish government chancellery of the details of the government's Internet-based electronic system of sessions.