E-voting: New legislation comes into force

Bern, 25.05.2022 - New legislation will apply from 1 July for the first stage of the redesign of e-voting trials. At its meeting on 25 May 2022, the Federal Council enacted the partially revised Ordinance on Political Rights (PoRO). The Federal Council also took note of the fact that the totally revised Federal Chancellery Ordinance on Electronic Voting (OEV) comes into force on the same date. This means cantons can once again apply to the Federal Council to offer e-voting on a trial basis.

The Confederation has set out the requirements for e-voting in federal ballots. The revised PoRO and OEV will help to increase the security of e-voting systems by only allowing completely verifiable systems that have been examined by independent experts on behalf of the Confederation and by introducing stricter and more detailed security and quality requirements for these systems, their use and development E-voting may be used by a maximum of 30% of the cantonal electorate and 10% of the national electorate. As special target groups for e-voting, Swiss citizens living abroad and voters with a disability are not counted when calculating these limits.

The new legislation increases transparency requirements and requires the public and experts to be involved in the trial phase. For example, detailed requirements on disclosing information on the system and its operation have been introduced, together with provisions on involving the public, such as an obligation to run an ongoing bug bounty programme.

Experts will also be involved, not only in the independent examination of the systems, but also in providing ongoing monitoring in the e-voting trials. Dialogue with the academic community, already launched in the redesign of the trials, will continue and will be regulated in the new legislation. A broad range of measures will be implemented over the coming years, which will bring continuous improvement to e-voting systems and their operation.

Certain cantons are planning to resume trials with the Swiss Post system. With this in mind, the Federal Chancellery commissioned an independent examination of this particular system and its operation and has published initial findings. Work on relaunching
trials with this system is underway but has not yet been concluded. The results of the independent examination will be among the factors that the Federal Council takes into account when deciding whether to issue a canton with a basic e-voting licence.

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