Remote Internet Voting and Increase of Voter Turnout: Happy Coincidence or Fact? The Case of Estonia


This article aims to explain a new and recent phenomenon from the scope of political science: How does the implementation of remote internet voting (RIV) affect voter turnout in one chosen European state (Estonia) after employing e-voting on the supranational, national and local level of elections. From some point of view, Remote internet voting can have a positive effect on lowering the barriers for voting, because traditional elections using paper ballots do not meet today’s standards for many citizens. The question seems simple: Does the application of RIV create new possibilities for Estonian citizens to vote outside the polling stations thus bringing new voters to the polls in a number, that we can recognize as a significant change in the total turnout in the first and the second level elections?

Remote Internet Voting, Estonia, Voter Turnout, Crisis of Democracy, Democracy

Alvarez, M., R., Hall, T., E., Trechsel, A. (2009): Internet Voting in Comparative Perspective: The Case of Estonia. Political Science & Politics. Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 497–505.">

Bernhagen, P., March, M. (2007): „Voting and Protesting: Explaining Citizen Participation in Old and New European Democracies.“ Democratization. Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 44-72.">

Blais, A., Gidengil, E., Nevitte, N. (2004): “Where does turnout decline come from?” European Journal for Political Research. Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 221-236.">

Breuer, F., Trechsel, A. (2006): E-voting in the 2005 local elections in Estonia. Report for the Council of Europe. Florence. [online] (visited 2014-5-12).

Buchstein, H. (2004): Online Democracy. Is It Viable? Is It Desirable? Internet Voting and Normative Democratic Theory. In: Kersting, N., Baldersheim, H. (eds.): Electronic Voting and Democracy: A Comparative Analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 39-58.

Crozier, M., Huntington, S., P., Watanuki, J. (1975): The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies. New York University Press.

Dahl, R. A. (1989): Democracy and its Critics. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.

Downs, A. (1957): An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper Collins.

E21C 2002 – Elections in the 21st Century: from paper ballot to e-voting (2002): Independent Commission on Alternative Voting Methods. London: Electoral Reform Society.

Franklin, M., N. (2002): “The Dynamics of Electoral Participation.” In: LeDuc, L., Niemi, R., G., Norris, P.: Comparing Democracies 2. New Challenge in the Study of Elections and Voting. London. pp. 149-168.

Hobold, S., B., Klemmensen, R. (2005): Welfare to Vote: The Effect of Government Spending on Turnout. Paper prepared for presentation at the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) 2005 Plenary Session, August 30-31 2005. Washington.

IDEA (2011): Voter turnout data for Estonia. (last update October 5, 2011) [online] (visited 2014-5-9).

Kersting, N., Baldersheim H. (eds.) (2004): Electronic Voting and Democracy: a Comparative Analysis. Houndmills, Basingstote, Hampshire, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kostadinova, T. (2003): “Voter turnout dynamics in post-Communist Europe.” European Journal of Political Research. Vol. 42, pp. 741-759.">

Kostadinova, T.. Power, T., J. (2007): “Does Democratization Depress Participation? Voter Turnout in the Latin American and Eastern European Transitional Democracies.” Political Research Quarterly. Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 363-377.

Leuchinger, S., Rosinger, M., Stutzer, A. (2006): The Impact of Postal Voting on Participation. Evidence for Switzerland. Working Paper No. 297. (visited 2014-5-9).

Lijphart, A. (1979): “Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method.” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 682-693.">

Lijphart, A. (1994): “Democracies: Forums, performance and constitutional engineering.” Journal of Political Research. Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 1-17.">

Lijphart, A. (1999): Patterns of Democracy. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.

Lipset, S. (1960/1981 exten.): Political Man. The Social Bases of Politics. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Loncke, M., Dumortier, J. (2004): “Online voting: A legal perspective.” International Review of Law, Computers & Technology. Vol.18, No. 1, pp. 60-61.">

Madise, Ü., Vinkel, P. (2011): “Constitutionality of Remote Internet Voting: The Estonian Perspective.” Juridica Internacional. No. 13, [online] (visited 2014-5-9).

Monnoyer-Smith, L. (2006): “How I-voting technology challenges traditional concepts of citizenship: An analysis of French voting rituals.” In: Krimmer, R. (ed.): Electronic Voting 2006. 2nd International Workshop. Bonn: Gesellschaft für Informatik. pp. 63-64.

Novák, M. (1997): “There is One ‘Best’ Model of Democracy?” Efficiency and Representativeness: ‘Theoretical Revolution’ or Democratic Dilemma?” Czech Sociological Review. Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 131-157.

Novák, M. et al. (2011): Úvod do studia politiky. Praha: Slon.

Oostveen, A., Besserlaar Van Den, P. (2004): Internet Votic technologies and civic participation: The users´ prerspective. The Public, Vol. 11, Amsterdam.

Reterová, S. (2009): Alternativní způsoby hlasování. Od tradičních voleb k online volbám. Olomouc: Perpilum.

Sartori, G. (1970): “Concept misinformation in comparative politics.” The Americam Political Science Review. Vol. 64, No. 4, pp. 1033-1053.">

Sartori, G. (1991): “Comparing and Miscomparing.” Journal of Theoretical Politics. No. 3, pp. 243-257.">

Trechsel, A., Mendez, F. (2004): The European Union and e-Voting. Adressing the European Parliament’s internet voting challenge. London, New York: Routledge.

Trechsel, A., Vassil, K. (2010): Internet Voting in Estonia: A Comparative Analysis of Four Elections Since 2005. Council of Europe and European University Institute. [online] (visited 2014-5-11).

VVKa – Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon. Estonian National Electoral Committee: Statistics about Internet Voting in Estonia. (visited 2014-5-11).

VVKb – Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon. Estonian National Electoral Committee: Advance Voting. (visited 2014-5-12).

Wattenberg, M., P. (1998): Turnout Decline in the U.S. and other Advanced Industrial Democracies. Irvine: University of California.

Zakaria, F. (2013): “Can America Be Fixed?” Foreign Affairs. [online] (visited 2014-5-11).