No. 39



Online Elections: Confidence and Turnout

05 June 2019


RiTo No. 39, 2019

  • Mihkel Solvak

    Mihkel Solvak

    University of Tartu, Institute of Government and Politics, Researcher

The record proportion of votes cast electronically in the Riigikogu elections is the result of the voters’ confidence in this way of voting.

The option of i-voting has been in place since 2005, and throughout the whole period up to the 2019 Riigikogu elections, the proportion of the people who trust i-voting has been averaging nearly 70 per cent. The trust level is closely correlated to the use of i-voting. If a person perceives this technology as trustworthy, they are more likely to vote online.

The perceived trustworthiness does not derive from the i-voter’s user experience, however, but is a precondition to trying online voting in the first place. Since i-voting has not brought about a rise in voter turnout, the huge rise in the number of online voters over time can be explained by the fact that those who used to vote on paper have opted for online voting. This is however the case with the voters who consider this way of voting very trustworthy already without having tried it first. At the same time, the confidence structure shows that roughly ten per cent of people with the right to vote are extremely sceptical about online elections. Thus a small but persistent group of sceptics exists besides the large trusting majority. All that considered, it can be presumed that the Estonian online elections are resistant to technological attacks and attacks on their reputation, which mainly aim to sow distrust and general confusion against the organisation of elections among voters. The high perceived trustworthiness and good reputation of online elections is indisputably connected with the general positive image of e-government in the eyes of its citizens.