Lithuania open to online voting


Lithuanians could use online voting similar to the one used in Estonia. Photo:

It’s hard to resist change when there are neighbors out there who are determined to have the best electoral technology for safeguarding the people’s intent. This is what Lithuania is experiencing right now. The country is evaluating the possibility of going to online voting, somehow emulating the model used by other European nations such as Estonia.

Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis, and the Minister of Transport and Communication, Rimantas Sinkevičius, announced that they have proposed various legal amendments, seeking to implement one of the most advanced types of e-voting: online voting.

The initiative follows a public survey which revealed that 65% of the population approves of this voting mechanism. According to the information disclosed so far, aside from revising the laws in order to authorize electoral automation, Lithuania is also studying the Estonian electoral model toward its implementation.

Estonia recently gave the world a lesson on online voting, as on March 1st, during its parliamentary elections, it got 30% of its electorate (176,328 voters) to vote online. This country has the world’s most sophisticated online voting system, going as far as to allow voter authentication through cell phone, as well as the addition of a digital signature to each vote.

The National Electoral Commission of Estonia has stated that the success of remote voting in the country is due to the fact that its use is optional and it is done before the actual electoral event. Moreover, the system has several features that add value, such as allowing voters to send as many e-votes as they wish, of which however only the last one counts.

Traditional voting for the entire electorate and postal voting for citizens living abroad are still available for those who prefer such choices. It is even possible for those who have previously voted online to attend a polling center on Election Day and vote manually, overriding any e-vote previously cast online.

Lithuania has begun the path toward a difficult yet attainable goal: to allow its citizens to replicate the best practices in e-voting, which are also successfully being implemented by other European nations such as Switzerland—a pioneer in online voting—or like the US and Canada.