Government to run audit on Swiss Post e-voting system

E-voting trials have been ongoing for years in Switzerland, with limited success. Keystone / Alessandro Della Bella

The government has launched a detailed testing procedure to determine whether the latest Swiss Post e-voting system is fit to be rolled out by cantons.

This content was published on July 6, 2021

Two years ago Swiss Post shelved its e-voting system when bugs were found in the source code. At the time, the government also said it was temporarily abandoning efforts to instate e-voting as a regular voting channel for citizens, along with postal and physical voting.

Now, after several cantons have said they are keen to pursue e-voting trials, the government said on MondayExternal link it was launching an “independent examination” of the latest Swiss Post system.

The test, which involves experts from universities around the world, will look at whether the system meets the requirements of Swiss law, how much risk is involved, as well as procedures like printing polling cards and counting votes.

The results are expected next year. The experts will not decide whether the cantons should go ahead with trials; that decision will be taken by the government, it said.

The government also reiterated that once cantons begin to roll it out, experts will be called on to continually audit the system, which will also be open to public testing with financial rewards under a so-called bug-bounty programme.

Currently, no e-voting system is available for use in Switzerland. After decades of trials and initiatives, the shelving of the Swiss Post system in 2019 and the dropping of canton Geneva’s system (due to cost issues) in 2018 put projects on pause.

Opponents of e-voting – who say the security risks involved in less-than-perfect systems are a threat to democracy – launched an initiative to introduce a nationwide moratorium on any further trials, but they withdrew it last June.

The Federal Chancellery, which oversees e-voting policy on behalf of the government, says the offer of e-voting was crucial notably for the community of expat Swiss citizens as well as for the younger generation in general and for visually impaired people.

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