Online voting discussed at Latvian Election Commission conference

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Issues around improving the Latvian voting system were discussed at the Central Election Commission (CVK) conference, including creating an electronic voter registry to make voting with an ID card easier, as well as the benefits and risks of online voting, CVK Chair Kristīne Bērziņa told Latvian Radio on December 6.

Providus Center for Public Policy Director Iveta Kažoka says that for the most part the voting system works well, but said that a topic worth discussing would be open voting lists, where people could combine candidates from different parties. She also said that individual municipalities should try electronic voting.

“Similar to Estonia, people would have the opportunity to vote remotely until election day, and if they wish to, could change their vote at the precinct. That way everything would be secure and there would be no doubt about the reliability of the system,” said Kažoka.

University of Latvia Faculty of Computing Professor Andris Ambainis stressed the various risks of online voting at the conference, based on the experience of other countries.

“Switzerland has had online voting for various level elections from 2009 to 2018. They're currently halted due to security concerns. They've had it in Australia at the provincial level since 2011. Security experts have been harshly critical,” said Ambainis.

Continuing about election security in regards to IT solutions, Bērziņa points out that there is still no good voting solution for those who only have ID cards, and argues for the creation of an online registry.

“The current experience for people with ID cards has been that they need to get additional voter certificates. Of course you have to be a very motivated person in this case if you want to participate in elections,” said Bērziņa.

There are 33 months left until parliamentary elections, and Bērziņa said that if these issues are not addressed on time, the solutions cannot be implemented in a quality manner.

As previously reported this year, introducing an electronic voting system in Latvia would create security risks, Janis Maizitis, Chief of the Constitution Protection Bureau or the top national security agency in Latvia, said on Latvian Radio January 8.

He said he was not prone to phobias but, based on the information that he knew as the head of the national security agency, he believed that it would best if Latvia kept to the existing voting procedure, using paper ballots.

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