e-Voting: Dialogue with experts on redesigning the trial phase
Bern, 23.06.2020 - If e-voting systems are to be used in popular votes and elections they must fulfil the highest security requirements. The federal government and the cantons are currently in the process of revising the requirements for such systems. To that end, they are working with Swiss and foreign experts from the fields of IT, cryptography and political science.
On 26 June 2019, the Federal Council commissioned the Federal Chancellery to work with the cantons to redesign the trial phase of e-voting. The aim is to establish stable trial operations using the latest generation of e-voting systems, which are fully verifiable. Verifiability makes it possible to identify whether votes cast electronically have been manipulated.
The first planned trial of such a system was unable to take place last year. Due to the fact that serious flaws were found in the source code of the system developed by Swiss Post, which also concerned the system it had in operation at the time, Swiss Post withdrew its system. In addition, the Canton of Geneva announced last year that it would no longer continue to develop its own system, and that it was therefore being withdrawn. Consequently, no e-voting systems are currently available in Switzerland.
Lessons from the previous trial phase are being drawn and the legal and technical basis for the trial phase are being revised. To that end, the federal government and the cantons are currently in dialogue with Swiss and foreign experts from the fields of IT, cryptography and political science. The intention was to hold this dialogue in the form of workshops, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic it is now being conducted online.
The dialogue is based on a comprehensive questionnaire prepared by specialists from the Federal Administration and the cantons. It enabled the experts taking part to share all of their knowledge, ideas and concerns. The dialogue was therefore de-signed to have the necessary breadth. The Federal Chancellery will publish the results once the discussions have been concluded.
The dialogue forms the foundation for the review and, if necessary, amendment of the relevant federal legislation, and thus for the planned redesign. The Federal Chancellery aims to submit proposals for the redesign of the trial phase to the Federal Council by the end of the year so that it can take a decision. This should provide a basis for the cantons to apply for an initial licence to use an e-voting system of the latest generation.
Address for enquiries
Dep. Head of Communications, Federal Chancellery
+41 58 483 99 69