Estonia scores Web first in national polls

A citizen (L) casts his ballot during advance voting in the general elections in Tallinn, Estonia February 27, 2007. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

TALLINN (Reuters) - About one in 30 Estonian voters cast ballots via the Internet this week when the country became the first in the world to allow Web voting for national parliamentary elections, officials said on Wednesday.

Voters in the Baltic country were given the chance to vote via the Internet from February 26-28 before the actual polling day on March 4.

A total of 30,275 out of 940,000 registered voters cast their ballots via the Web, said the officials.

“We are happy with this number. I personally would not have expected so many electronic voters,” said Epp Maaten, deputy head of the national electoral commission.

Estonia used Web voting for elections once before but that was in more limited local polls in 2005 when nearly 10,000 voted through the Internet. It is a new sign of Estonia’s strong embrace of technology since it quit the Soviet Union in 1991.

To cast ballots via the Internet, voters had to use their state-issued ID cards and enter two passwords.

Pollsters expect the present two main coalition parties, the centre-right Reform Party and left-leaning Centre Party, to both do well in the elections, but it is not clear which will be the biggest.

Reform leader Andrus Ansip is the current prime minister.