The governing board of Estonia's Reform Party decided to expel MEP Kristiina Ojuland over voting fraud accusations and development director of the West-Viru regional organization Taimi Samblik who admitted to vote-rigging quit the party on Wednesday.
The board found that both Ojuland and Samblik had damaged the party's reputation and that Ojuland therefore had to be ejected from the party. As Samblik left the party of her own accord her expulsion was removed from the agenda.
Ojuland said she intends to contest the decision at a general assembly of the party and that she is going to decide together with her lawyers whether to take legal action.
The leader of the party, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, declined comment after the board meeting, promising to give explanations after 3 p.m.
The board based its decision on the recommendation of the party's court of honor. The governor of West-Viru County, Einar Vallbaum, who also was implicated in the e-voting scandal, escaped expulsion.
The court of honor said that both Samblik's and Ojuland's connection with voting in other persons' name in party board elections was proven. Ojuland, who has headed the West-Viru regional organization of the Reform Party since 2007, paid party membership dues for 39 persons which entitled them to vote in internal elections. Samblik admitted before the court of honor that it was she who committed the voting fraud, stating that she was following Ojuland's orders.
Ojuland denied having ordered the development director to rig the vote. She also gave the court of honor materials purportedly showing that irregularities occurred in internal elections elsewhere in Estonia . A check did not corroborate her claims, spokespeople for the Reform Party said.
Vallbaum's participation in vote-rigging was not proven.
The court of honor said it is regrettable that a few persons' actions gave a bad name to the whole e-election system of Estonia and emphasized that the national e-voting system, which is completely separate from the Reform Party's internal voting system, is sufficiently secure.
In the court of honor's view, the breaches in this case do not give grounds for doubting the legitimacy of the 2013 board election results.