Skip to main content

Internet Voting in Comparative Perspective: The Case of Estonia

  • R. Michael Alvarez (a1), Thad E. Hall (a2) and Alexander H. Trechsel (a3)

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.

Hide All
Aalto, Pami, and Berg, Eiki. 2002. “Spatial Practices and Time in Estonia: From Post-Soviet Geopolitics to European Governance.” Space & Polity 6 (3): 253–70.
Alvarez, R. Michael, Bailey, Delia, and Katz, Jonathan N.. 2008. “The Effect of Voter Identification Laws on Turnout.” Social Science Research Network Working Paper.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Hall, Thad E.. 2004. Point, Click and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Hall, Thad E.. 2008a. “Voting Online Around the World: Successes in Estonia and the UK.” In Voting In America: American Voting Systems in Flux: Debacles, Dangers, and Brave New Designs, Vol. 3, ed. Felchner, Morgan. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Hall, Thad E.. 2008b. Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Alvarez, R. Michael, Hall, Thad E., and Roberts, Brian. 2007. “Military Voting and the Law: Procedural and Technological Solutions to the Ballot Transit Problem.” Fordham Urban Law Review 34 (3): 935–96.
Alvarez, R. Michael, Hall, Thad E., and Sinclair, Betsy. 2008. “Whose Absentee Votes are Counted?Electoral Studies 27 (4): 673–83.
Alvarez, R. Michael, and Nagler, Jonathan. 2001. “The Likely Consequences of Internet Voting for Political Representation.” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 34: 3.
Auer, Andreas, and Trechsel, Alexander H., eds. 2001. Voter par internet? Le projet e-voting dans le canton de Genève dans une perspective socio-politique et juridique. Genève: Helbing & Lichtenhahn.
Berg, Eiki. 2001. “Ethnic Mobilization in Flux: Revisiting Peripherality and Minority Discontent in Estonia.” Space & Polity 5 (1): 526.
Brady, Henry E., and Kaplan, Cynthia S.. 2001. “Subjects to Citizens: From Non-Voting, to Protesting, to Voting in Estonia during the Transition to Democracy.” Journal of Baltic Studies 32 (4): 347–78.
Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. 2001. “What Is/What Could Be.” Boston/Pasadena.
Drechsler, Wolfgang, and Madise, Ulle. 2002. “E-Voting in Estonia.” Trames 6 (56/51): 234–44.
Fortier, John C. 2006. Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises, and Perils. Washington, D.C.: AEI Press.
Franklin, Mark. 2004. Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies since 1945. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Grofman, Bernard, Mikkel, Evald, and Taagepera, Rein. 1999. “Electoral Systems Change in Estonia, 1989–1993.” Journal of Baltic Studies 30 (3): 227–49.
Grofman, Bernard, Mikkel, Evald, and Taagepera, Rein. 2000. “Fission and Fusion of Parties in Estonia, 1987–1999.” Journal of Baltic Studies 31 (4): 329–57.
Kersting, N., and Baldersheim, H., eds. 2004. Electronic Voting and Democracy: A Comparative Analysis. London: Palgrave
Kies, Raphaël, and Trechsel, Alexander H.. 2001. “Le contexte socio-politique.” In Voter par internet? Le projet e-voting dans le canton de Genève dans une perspective socio-politique et juridique, ed. Auer, Andreas and Trechsel, Alexander H.. Genève: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 573.
Kriesi, Hanspeter, and Trechsel, Alexander H.. 2008. The Politics of Switzerland: Continuity and Change in a Consensus Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
McNeal, Ramona, and Tolbert, Caroline. 2004. “Support for Internet Voting in the United States.” In Electronic Voting and Democracy: A Comparative Analysis, ed. Kersting, N. and Baldersheim, H.. London: Palgrave, 226–41.
Mossberger, Karen, Tolbert, Caroline, and McNeal, Ramona. 2007. Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society and Participation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Mossberger, Karen, Tolbert, Caroline, and Stansbury, Mary. 2003. Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Norris, Pippa. 2001. Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Norris, Pippa. 2005. “The Impact of the Internet on Political Activism: Evidence from Europe.” International Journal of Electric Government Research 1 (1): 2039.
Organization for Security, and Co-operation in Europe. 2007. “Final Report on the 4 March 2007 Parliamentary Elections in Estonia.” Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Park, Andrus. 1994. “Ethnicity and Independence: The Case of Estonia in Comparative Perspective.” Europe-Asia Studies 46 (1): 6987.
Pettai, Vello. 2004. “Estonia.” European Journal of Political Research 43: 993–99.
Solop, Frederic I. 2001. “Digital Democracy Comes of Age: Internet Voting and the 2000 Arizona Democratic Primary Election.” PS: Political Science and Politics 34 (2): 289–93.
Taagepera, Rein. 2006. “Meteoric Trajectory: The Res Publica Party in Estonia.” Democratization 13 (1): 7894.
Titma, Mikk, Tuma, Nancy Brandon, and Silver, Brian D.. 1998. “Winners and Losers in the Post-communist Transition: New Evidence from Estonia.” Post-Soviet Affairs 14 (2): 114–36.
Trechsel, Alexander H. 2007. “E-voting and Electoral Participation.” In Dynamics of Referendum Campaigns—An International Perspective, ed. de Vreese, Claes. London: Palgrave, 159–82.
Trechsel, Alexander H., and Mendez, Fernando, eds. 2005. The European Union and E-voting. Addressing the European Parliament's Internet Voting Challenge. London: Routledge.
Trechsel, Alexander, Schwerdt, H. Guido, Breuer, Fabian, Alvarez, Michael, and Hall, Thad. 2007. “Report for the Council of Europe, Internet Voting in the March 2007 Parliamentary Elections in Estonia.” Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
UK Electoral Commission. 2003. “The Shape of Things to Come.” London.
West, Darrell. 2005. Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed