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18 Nov, 2020 09:00

Estonian politicians divided over online voting as minister resigns after claiming US election was manipulated by 'deep state'

Estonian politicians divided over online voting as minister resigns after claiming US election was manipulated by 'deep state'

A row over the integrity of Estonia's electronic voting system has worsened after the resignation of the country's interior minister, who claimed last year's poll – as well as the US election – was influenced by the "deep state."

Information Technology Minister Raul Siem sought to reassure Estonians on Tuesday that their own elections, which took place last year, had not been compromised. "We have discussed the health of our electronic elections after government officials questioned it," he said, adding that those who had raised concerns over potential manipulation "were unequivocally rejected."

Minister for the Interior Mart Helme claimed earlier this month that election results in the tiny Eastern European nation were being falsified in favor of one particular party by those with access to the electronic voting system, local media reported.

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Helme, from the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), a member of the governing coalition, went on to criticize the Democratic candidate in the US elections, Joe Biden, and attributed his projected victory to shadowy forces within the government. "The logic of the deep state is to embed scoundrels, corrupt, blackmailed bastards everywhere to ensure its own freedom of action. Joe Biden and Hunter Biden are corrupt types," he claimed.

Helme's son, Martin, who is the leader of the right-wing EKRE, and the country's Finance Minister, spoke out in support of his father's views. “In my opinion,” the younger Helme said, “there is no question at all that these elections were rigged… all normal people should oppose this. It makes no sense to talk about democracy or a state governed by the rule of law, if elections can be so simply, so blatantly and massively falsified.” 

His father, Mart, eventually resigned from the government in a fiery letter, in which he promised the government that “you will not shut me up, no one will shut me up.”

On Tuesday, the country's president sought to distance himself from his former minister's comments, saying that when it came to the US elections, "not a single Estonian politician has cause to speak out on this, and we won't."

The Baltic state, with a population of only 1.3 million, is a world leader in digital government and online voting. Since 2005, citizens have been able to cast their ballots over the internet, no matter where in the world they are. According to the government, 30 percent of the public use the system and its improved efficiency saves 11,000 working days per election.

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