The State Information System Authority (RIA) and Cybernetica AS signed a cooperation agreement to develop an election application for mobile devices.
A test vote will be carried out at the end of the year and at the start of the new year, it will be clear whether the new solution will be implemented in the 2023 Riigikogu elections.
The e-voting app for smart devices will enable those who use a state-issued identity card, or mobile ID, to vote. At the same time, a technical solution will be developed for an alternative means of authentication in case it is needed in the future (e.g. Smart-ID). The app will be created for both iOS and Android devices.
“This is a pilot project, which allows us to test the security of the technical solution and the feasibility of its implementation,” explained Alo Einla, Head of Elections Infosystems Development Department at Information System Authority. “We will also provide important input to the public debate and hope to involve the community in the pilot elections. The existence of a technical solution does not mean that it’ll be immediately adopted as such, as it needs further analysis and testing. However, it’s the first step towards a comprehensive solution. As the upcoming development is resource intensive, it makes sense to design a technical solution that allows us to avoid the situation where something is left undone due to missing developments. So, we’re not going for a half-baked solution, but do more than is expected today,” added Einla.
“The option and need to use a mobile device for voting has been discussed for years, and the development of its technical solution is only part of a larger project. There should certainly be a debate, both among technicians and in society, on how to ensure that the application is safe, convenient and can be widely used. We also need to understand that we’re the first country in the world, with 17 years of experience in i-voting, that wants to take elections to a new technical level – into the smart device. This is unprecedented, and it is sure to generate a lot of discussion and opinions elsewhere in the world as well,” said Alo Einla.
Oliver Väärtnõu, CEO at Cybernetica, says that as the technology partner, the company is ready to use its unique knowledge and experience in the development of underlying technologies for secure i-voting for the development of m-voting capabilities that meet the highest security requirements. “In a situation where digital services are used increasingly more on mobile devices, it would be reasonable to make voting possible on these devices as well,” said Väärtnõu. “Of course, it’s debatable whether this is a matter of necessity or convenience, but it doesn’t affect the quality of the solution developed by Cybernetica in any way at all.”
According to Arne Koitmäe, Head of State Electoral Office, the use of mobile devices is increasing. “This means that, once the security of the mobile voting app is confirmed, it would give voters the opportunity to exercise their right to vote by means that are widely used today,” Koitmäe said. At the same time, Koitmäe emphasised that the solution must comply with the requirements of the Election Act and be fully secure before it can actually be implemented.
The test version of the technical solution is being developed by Cybernetica AS, with whom RIA has a framework contract. The project is due to be completed by mid-2023 and the works will be handed over in stages.