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Internet Voting in Comparative Perspective: The Case of Estonia

R. Michael Alvareza1, Thad E. Halla2 and Alexander H. Trechsela3

a1 California Institute of Technology

a2 University of Utah

a3 European University Institute

ABSTRACT

Several countries have conducted Internet voting trials in binding public elections over the past decade, including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, Estonia—a former Soviet republic and now a full member of the European Union—has advanced the farthest in deploying Internet voting. In this article, we focus on how the Estonians have systematically addressed the legal and technical considerations required to make Internet voting a functioning voting platform, as well as the political and cultural framework that promoted this innovation. Using data from our own qualitative and quantitative studies of the Estonian experience, we consider who voted over the Internet in these elections, and the political implications of the voting platform.

R. Michael Alvarez is professor of political science at the California Institute of Technology and co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. He has written numerous articles and books on election administration and reform, including Electronic Elections, the Perils and Promise of Digital Democracy, with Thad E. Hall.

Thad E. Hall is an assistant professor of political science and research fellow at the Institute of Public and International Affairs at the University of Utah. He has written several articles and books on election reform and administration, including Point Click and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting, with R. Michael Alvarez.

Alexander H. Trechsel is professor of political science and the Swiss chair in Federalism and Democracy at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. He coordinates the European Union Democracy Observatory (EUDO) at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the EUI. He is the author of numerous books and articles on elections and democracy and has led several research projects studying Internet voting in Estonia for the Council of Europe.

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