This week, major Estonian tech companies are recommending that employees take a ten-minute break at a time of their choosing so that they can elect their parliament over the internet instead of going through the hassle of driving to the station on the Election Day.
“Online voting in Estonia takes just 30 seconds. As convenient as the system is, many people end up not casting a vote because of their busy work and travel schedule,” said Sten Tamkivi, the president of the Estonian Startup Leaders Club. “In Estonia, online voting is the easiest way to take part in shaping the country’s future, so we’re calling on our companies’ employees to take time out for 10 minutes, let the dust settle and calmly make their decision.”
I-voting in Estonia’s March 2019 general election opened today and runs until the evening of February 27. It was first introduced in the mid-2000s, and is based on the secure government-issued electronic identity – the ID card and mobile-ID.
“I, too, have been hearing the comment that ‘my vote doesn’t matter’. We want to tell our people that that just isn’t true. History has seen many decisions, both in politics and business, that come down to a majority of just a few votes,” said Tamkivi. "Starting a new company – the area that our club’s members are engaged in on a daily basis – is a great art of making small decisions in order to shape the kind of future you want."
The voting break was inspired by traditions in other countries where employers give their employees a shift or day off to do their civic duty. In Estonia’s case, instead of going to the polls in person, a citizen can i-vote in just 30 seconds, so a 10-minute voting break should be sufficient.
Each founding member of the club will decide the format in which they will participate in the voting break initiative. As part of the agreement, companies may not dictate which candidate or party employees should vote for.
The Estonian Startup Leaders Club unites over 70 individuals, among them the founders of internationally successful companies like Skype, Transferwise, Taxify, Starship, Toggl, Veriff, Funderbeam, Jobbatical, Lingvist, Monese, Topia and many more. The full list can be found here.
According to data from the club, Estonia’s more than 400 active startups brought 300 million euros in foreign investment into the economy in 2018, earned more than 500 million euros in revenue (mainly through export) and employ more than 5,000 highly paid employees (annual growth +30%).
President 2019, Startup Leaders Club