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.
Redesign of trial phase
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 e-voting systems, which are fully verifiable. The redesign of the trial phase focuses on the following four objectives:
- Further development of the systems
- Effective control and monitoring
- Increasing transparency and trust
- Stronger connection with the science community
Final report by the Confederation and cantons
The Federal Chancellery and the cantons have produced a joint final report on the redesign and relaunch of e-voting trials. The report, drawn up after extensive consultation with experts from the academic research community and industrial sector, contains a catalogue of measures for relaunching the trials in stages.
The Federal Council took note of the steering committee’s final report on 18 December 2020. It has tasked the Federal Chancellery with the gradual implementation of the new redesign measures and to present a draft consultation document containing the necessary amendments to the legal bases. Once these amendments have been made and the systems independently tested, e-voting trials can be relaunched.
Dialogue with experts from the academic research community and the industrial sector
The Confederation and cantons worked closely with IT and cryptography experts as well as with political scientists in determining the new direction that the e-voting project should take. A list of the experts mandated by the Federal Chancellery and the cantons, the questionnaire used as a basis for eliciting their views at the start of the dialogue along with the summaries of the results of the dialogue can be found below. As well as representatives from the federal government and the cantons, representatives of e-voting system providers took part at the invitation of the cantons.
Consultation procedure 2021
At its meeting on 28 April 2021 the Federal Council decided to open the consultation procedure for the redesign of electronic voting trials. The Ordinance on Political Rights (PoRO) will undergo a partial revision and the Federal Chancellery Ordinance on Electronic Voting ("VEleS", OEV) will be completely revised. This is intended to create a new, stable basis for e-voting trials.
The consultation ended on 18 August 2021.
The official documents in German, French and Italian and the submissions can be obtained via the following Internet address: https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/de/consultation-procedures/ended/2021
An (unofficial) translation of the documents in English are published here:
Secure e-voting in Switzerland
The video of the Federal Chancellery explains how e-voting is made secure in Switzerland.