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Estonian prez ices internet voting plan

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Estonian president Arnold Ruutel has put the kybosh on plans to allow internet voting in the country, saying that the process needs to be made more secure. He called for a more thorough debate on the uniformity of elections and the reliability of voter identification.

According to press agency AFP, Ruutel specifically mentioned the principle of uniformity in his ruling. He argued that the provision in the e-voting bill that would allow online voters to change their minds several times violated this principle. Voters using traditional ballots can, of course, only vote once, which Ruutel said, means voters are not give equal opportunities to vote.

The Estonian parliament okayed internet voting a month ago, for use in local elections coming up this October. The system uses the country's identity card system as the basis for voter identification. Voters would need to have an ID card reader attached to their computer to vote online, but although around 60 per cent of the population owns an ID card, the number with card readers is much lower.

The original plan was to extend this system to the national elections in 2007, but Ruutel wants more debate before that happens. But he still backs the scheme in principle.

"Electronic voting is an important additional opportunity in the development of our state, which would also help highlight Estonia's progress in promoting e-governance," he said. ®

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