With consultations already underway on new federal provisions that define extensive security requirements for e-voting systems and their operation, some cantons are planning new trials with the redesigned Swiss Post e-voting system. The Confederation is therefore launching an independent examination of this system and its operation. This will take several months and will serve as a basis for deciding whether the cantons can relaunch trials with this system.
At its meeting on 28 April 2021 the Federal Council decided to open the consul-tation procedure for the redesign of electronic voting trials. The Ordinance on Political Rights will undergo a partial revision and the Federal Chancellery Ordinance on Electronic Voting will be completely revised. This is intended to create a new, stable basis for e-voting trials.
The cantons are again to be permitted to undertake limited trials with online voting using fully verifiable systems. This is the declared aim of the Federal Council, which on 18 December issued a decision on the redesign of e-voting trials. More precise security requirements, increased transparency, closer cooperation with independent experts and effective auditing on behalf of the Confederation will all contribute to ensuring the security of e-voting. There will be a consultation procedure on amending the statutory bases in 2021.
The Confederation and the cantons have conducted broad-based discussions with experts in Switzerland and abroad on e-voting in this country. The outcomes of these discussions are now available, and will be incorporated in the legal and technical bases of the trial programme, which is currently under revision.
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.
At its meeting on 26 June, the Federal Council decided to provisionally forgo introducing electronic voting into regular operation. In the consultation on the planned amendment to the Political Rights Act, the majority of respondents generally expressed support for e-voting, but considered its introduction into regular operation to be premature. In addition, the Federal Council commissioned the Federal Chancellery to amend the general conditions for future trials.
The e-voting system operated by Swiss Post will not be available for the vote on 19 May. Following the recent public intrusion test the Federal Chancellery will be reviewing the licensing and certification procedures for e-voting systems.
Researchers have uncovered a significant flaw in the new e-voting system of Swiss Post. The flaw concerns the system offering universal verifiability, which is currently undergoing a public intrusion test. It does not affect the system already being used in four cantons. The flaw does not allow the system to be intruded. The Federal Chancellery has urged Swiss Post to take appropriate measures to prevent such flaws.
Swiss Post is making its future e-voting system available for a public intrusion test from 25 February to 24 March. The e-voting system is the first Swiss system that can be fully verified. Interested hackers from all over the world are welcome to attack the system. In doing so, they will contribute to improving the system’s security.