An error margin of 2% in municipal elections ruled acceptable in Finland
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Earlier last year, EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) reported of the Finnish e-voting pilot which took place in three Finnish municipalities on 26 October 2008. 232 votes were lost due to various usability and apparent performance issues. Additionally, there is risk of a breach of the anonymity of the votes, because the electronic ballot box has been archived with information on who voted and how. The e-voting project had been strongly criticised by Effi from its inception for its lack of transparency both in the process and software.
A report from the Council of Europe on 1 December 2008 stated that "the Finnish electronic voting did not conclude in a way which satisfies the fundamental principles for democratic elections, in particular the principle of universal suffrage". The Ministry of Justice performed an internal audit, and reported on 10 December that the audit found deficiencies in project management.
However, on 29 January 2009, the Helsinki administrative court ruled that the elections met the requirements of the Finnish election law, and therefore the municipal decisions to confirm the election results were not overturned. The court's main argument was that a failure rate of slightly over 2 percent does not, as such, indicate that the election authorities would have acted in error. As for the voter anonymity, the court rejected the complaint because a breach of voter secrecy could, in practice, happen only through "unlawful and at the same time, even criminal" activities.
The original complainants will most likely appeal to the supreme administrative court. A final decision is to be expected around May 2009.
Finnish e-voting fiasco: votes lost (28.10.2008)
Electronic Frontier Finland report on the deficiencies of the system
Council of Europe report on the Finnish e-voting pilot (2-3.12.2008)
Ministry of Justice press release on the internal audit (only in Finnish,
Original complaint to the administrative court (only in Finnish, 12.11.2008)
Effi press release on the Helsinki administrative court ruling (in Finnish)
Court ruling (only in Finnish, 29.01.2009)
(contribution by EDRi-member Electronic Frontier Finland)