Government plans on online voting: Key questions and answers

On line voting

When can online voting be legalized?

Justice Vice-Minister Justas Pankauskas says that the most realistic plan is that online voting would be introduced during the 2020 parliamentary elections, with a slightly smaller probability of having the opportunity during the 2019 elections for president, local governments and the European Parliament. The government forecasts that a fifth of the electorate could vast their votes online in 2020.

Lithuania’s parliament has been discussing online voting initiatives since 2007, and the fifth version of the bill is currently being presented before plenary. In a few months, it should be included in the government’s agenda, with a Seimas decision expected in the spring or the fall session. The government’s plan of measures envisages that the information system should be developed in the second quarter of 2018.

Political scientist Agnija Tumkevič told BNS that the plans seem too optimistic. “Even with the necessary political will in place, consultations with experts and a more thorough analysis of experiences of other countries would be needed,” she said.

What are the pros and cons?

Supporters say that online voting would boost turnout of young people and Lithuanians living abroad because Lithuania’s voter turnout is among the lowest among other European Union (EU) countries, furthermore, the system would allow faster and more precise counting of votes. Critics fear possible cyber attacks, protection of personal data and manipulation of votes cast online. In an effort to prevent vote buying, Lithuania is considering to allow repeated voting, with only the last vote being counted.

What are the positions of political parties?

The Social Democrats and the Liberals are in support. The conservatives, the Order and Justice party and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania are reserved and say they would not support the scheme until full confidence in safety, especially after cyber attacks in the United States. Vytautas Bakas of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Green Union who heads the parliamentary National Security and Defense Committee told BNS that Lithuania should take advantage of the potential of the Internet and “cannot lock itself in the past,” however, should ensure safety.

What is the situation worldwide?

On the national scale, online voting in all levels of elections is only allowed in Estonia. Other countries, for instance, Canada, France, Norway and Switzerland, apply certain restrictions.

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