Updated: Estonia approves voting via mobile phone. (Not exactly.)

Updated: Estonia approves voting via mobile phone. (Not exactly.)

The Estonian parliament (pictured) has just approved a bill to let Estonian citizens vote via their mobile phone. This makes the country the first country in the world to do so, and comes about 20 months after Estonia held its first nation-wide election where the electorate could cast their ballots online.

Mobile phone voting, which likely will come via a new secure SIM card to be used in conjunction with the country’s digital ID card system, will take effect in the 2011 parliamentary elections.

[via Russian News and Information Agency]

Update: Kris Haamer points me to a TV ad previewing EMT’s mobile voting system that aired about 20 months ago.

Update (Dec 17.): I spoke with Silver Meikar, an Estonian MP, who told me that this actually isn’t quite mobile phone voting. In fact, this is using Estonia’s digital ID card infrastructure to use your phone as an ID tool instead of your ID card and reader. You still need a computer and an Internet connection to vote online, but you now can just have your phone instead of your ID card. So, not as sexy.

IDG News Service has more.


  1. First of all, Estonia is not allowing voting via mobile phone. Rather, they’re allowing the mobile phone to be used as a form of digital ID — instead of the current ID card that they do have. (See : http://cyrusfarivar.com/blog/?p=1855)

    Second, your conclusion “In other words, text your preference, and tell the authorities exactly how you vote.” negates the fact that the Estonian software will strip out your identifying data. Recall that Estonia started national online voting last year and used it without a problem.

    It’s not simply that you’re texting your vote like you text your buddy across town. There’s an entire infrastructure that Estonia has created to have a secure, digital ID — and it works well for voting and other government interactions. When Estonia does allow voting via mobile phone, it will not allow government officials to know who you voted for.

  2. The way in which Estonia intended to allow mobiles to be used for voting wasn’t immediately clear. My apologies if I misunderstood.

    However I would still be nervous about relying on any government resisting the temptation to retain information as to how its citizens might choose to vote, particularly given the desire of the British government to retain a record of just about every other digital transaction people might choose to undertake.

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