In Switzerland, e-voting means voting online via the internet. E-voting is part of the strategic plan of Swiss E-Government, which entails close collaboration between the Confederation and the cantons. Since 2004, 15 cantons have offered internet voting to a limited part of their electorate in over 300 trials. The Confederation and cantons have followed the principle of ‘security before speed’. In Switzerland, e-voting is only permitted if strict requirements under federal law are met.
At the beginning of 2019, internet voting was offered in ten cantons, either to both Swiss living abroad and resident voters or restricted to voters living abroad. The cantons could choose between two systems: the system offered by the canton of Geneva and the system offered by Swiss Post.
Based on its decision of November 2018, the canton of Geneva announced in June 2019 that its system would no longer be available with immediate effect. Swiss Post announced on 5 July 2019 that their individually verifiable system would no longer be offered to the cantons. Swiss Post is developing a system with complete verifiability. Currently, no e-voting system is available in Switzerland.
At its meeting on 26 June 2019, the Federal Council instructed the Federal Chancellery to work with the cantons to redesign the e-voting trials by the end of 2020.
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.
Existing e-voting system requirements and processes, in particular certification and authorisation procedures, are currently being reviewed and adapted. The redesign of the trial phase focuses on the following four objectives:
- Further development of the systems
- Effective controls and monitoring
- Increasing transparency and trust
- Stronger connection with the scientific community
The redesign is intended to provide a new basis for the use of e-voting systems. To that end, the federal government and the cantons collaborate with experts from the fields of IT, cryptography and political science. This collaboration takes place in the form of a dialogue on the future requirements that e-voting systems will have to meet, as well as their operation. This dialogue, alongside the reflections of the federal government and the cantons, will form an important basis for reviewing and, if necessary, adapting the relevant federal legislation. The dialogue should be completed by the autumn. Participants in the dialogue should be able to discuss issues objectively, independently of political considerations, and without prejudging the outcome; the Federal Chancellery will therefore publish the results once the dialogue has been completed.
A list of the experts mandated by the Federal Chancellery and the cantons along with the questionnaire used as a basis for eliciting their views at the start of the dialogue can be found below. As well as representatives from the federal government and the cantons, representatives of e-voting system providers will also take part at the invitation of the cantons.