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vaalit.fi Electronic Voting : Ministry of Justice Finland

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Organisation : Elections Website of Ministry of Justice Finland
Facility : Electronic Voting
Country : Finland

Electronic Voting : http://www.vaalit.fi/sahkoinenaanestaminen/en/index.html
Home Page : http://www.vaalit.fi/en/index.html

Electronic Voting :

The project to introduce electronic voting was started in 2005. Before the project was started the Ministry of Justice outlined the broad guidelines for electronic voting in three memorandums.

Related : Elections Finland Election Funding : www.electionin.org/1770.html

How do I vote electronically?
** Present a document confirming your identity (e.g. driving licence, passport or other similar document) to the election official at the polling station and tell the official you want to vote electronically.
** The official gives you an electronic voting card and you can enter the polling booth reserved for electronic voting.
** Insert the electronic voting card in the card reader.
** Follow the instructions on the screen. Enter your choices by touching the screen.
** Remove the electronic voting card from the card reader when you have voted. Information about the vote will not be stored on the card.
** Return the card to the official.
Now you have exercised your right to vote.

What if I want to cast a blank vote?
** Voters have the opportunity to cast a blank vote, i.e. exercise their right to vote without voting for any of the candidates.
** A blank vote has no effect on the vote count.
** Casting a blank vote can be seen as a statement and to ensure democracy it has been considered important to allow this option.

Cancelling the vote :
** If you for some reason want to cancel the electronic voting, you can do so, as long as you haven’t confirmed your vote.
** To cancel the electronic voting, press Cancel and remove the electronic voting card from the card reader.
** If you want to vote by paper ballot, give the electronic voting card back to the election official and tell him or her that you want to vote by paper ballot

Only supervised voting allowed :
** Considering the central principals of holding elections in Finland it is important that voting takes place in front of election authorities.
** This is why electronic voting is possible only at the advance polling stations and the polling stations on election day.
** In internet voting (distance voting), taking place at home or at work, it would not be possible to ensure that every voter has an equal voting right and a secret and free election.
** It would be impossible to ensure that no one sees who the voter votes for.
** Voting could turn into ”family voting”, where the head of the family decides who the family vote for.
** Some of those entitled to vote are not interested in elections or voting.
** This could lead to situation where a person chooses to surrender his or her right to vote to someone else.
** Also selling votes might become a problem.

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Secret and free elections and equal right to vote :
** According to section 9 of the Finnish Local Government Act (365/1995) municipal elections shall be direct, secret and proportional.
** All qualifying voters shall have an equal right to vote.
** An election by secret ballot means that no one will know who the voter has voted for or if he or she has cast a blank vote.
** Equal right to vote means that every voter has an equal right to influence the election results, i.e. everyone has the same number of votes.
** Free elections mean that voters are free to choose who they want to vote for.
** Voters can not be forced to vote against their will.

Advantages :
** Electronic voting presents numerous advantages over traditional paper ballot voting.
** In the initial stage there will of course be significant costs for planning, introduction and equipment.
** But in the long run and with a widespread introduction, the electronic voting system will lead to many cost savings.
** The advantages of an electronic voting system can be divided into advantages for the voters and advantages for the authorities.

Advantages of electronic voting for the voters :
** Electronic voting speeds up the voting process, especially where advance voting is concerned.
** After voting in the polling booth, voters no longer have to go to the election official to have their ballots stamped and wait until the election official has made an entry in the voting register to record that they have voted.
** Similarly, when voting on election day, voters no longer have to wait for their ballots to be stamped or drop them into the ballot box.
** Electronic voting will also increase the security and reliability of elections.
** An electronic vote is transported safely, reliably and fast into the centralized electronic ballot box.
** When electronic voting has been introduced on a wider scale to cover the whole country, it may be possible vote at any polling station, regardless of domicile, even on election day.
** Further, in electronic voting it is not possible to make voting errors by mistake, because the identification information of the chosen candidate will appear on the screen before the vote is confirmed.
** Another advantage for the voter is that there is no ambiguity in interpreting an electronic vote.
** When traditional paper ballots are used, unclear numbers may sometimes cause problems.

Advantages of electronic voting for the authorities :
** Electronic voting reduces and simplifies the work of the authorities significantly.
** Electronic voting leads to notable cost savings through reduced personnel, especially in the advance voting.

For instance the following functions are no longer needed in electronic voting:
** stamping the ballot and sealing the ballot in the election envelope
** filling in the covering letter
** making the entries in the voting register
** sending the voting documents to the central municipal electoral board
** examining the documents at the central municipal electoral board
** transportation of the election envelopes to the constituency electoral board (not in municipal elections)
** opening the envelopes and counting the votes
** separate registration of the election result in the election information system.

** Electronic voting will deliver also other cost savings.
** For example various envelopes, forms and documents are no longer needed.
** Electronic votes can be counted fast and reliably, and the result of the vote will be ready almost immediately

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