Administrative Court accepts Finnish e-voting results despite 2% of votes were lost

Helsinki Administrative Court gave today its decision on the e-voting appeals. Turre Legal represented 16 individuals from three municipalities who appealed the e-voting results from municipal elections held last October. The Administrative Court accepted the fact that 2% of votes cast were lost and not counted at all due to a number of errors in the e-voting system. However, the court accepted the voting result noting the following (same text for all municipalities, just italics added):

The feature, that if one took the e-voting card from the machine too early the voting process was interrupted without a notice, may be considered an issue. However, almost 98% of e-votes cast in the municipality of Kauniainen succeeded. A little over two percent failure rate can not be considered as such as a proof that the voting official would have acted erroneously… The threshold for conducting new elections must be substantial also taking into account governmental constitutional rights.

(“Sitä käyttöliittymän ominaisuutta, että äänestyskortin ennenaikainen poistaminen äänestyslaitteesta keskeytti äänestyksen siitä mitään ilmoittamatta, voidaan pitää puutteena. Kuitenkin lähes 98 prosenttia sähköisistä äänestyksistä onnistui Kauniaisissa. Hieman yli kahden prosentin epäonnistumisten määrää ei sellaisenaan voida pitää osoituksena siitä, että vaaliviranomainen olisi menetellyt virheellisesti.… Kynnyksen vaalien uudelleen toimittamiselle on oltava huomattava myös valtiollisten perusoikeuksien toteuttamisen kannalta.”)

So it was a feature, not a bug. Yes, I have heard that one before, was it from Microsoft PR?

It is now also an official fact that 2% of votes cast were lost because of these “features”. So what? Almost 98% were counted after all! Great. Except that this was the last time I voted.

And “governmental constitutional rights” as a legal argument. This is the first time I have heard of them. I thought the citizens have individual constitutional rights — like the right to vote as stated in the Finnish constitution, section 14 — against unreasonable state overpower to begin with. The last time I checked our constitution did not grant any specific rights to the state.

We will of course appeal this decision. A new and final one is expected from the Supreme Administrative Court before the summer.

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Here are Electronic Frontier Finland’s comments on the subject