Expats in Australia and Mexico pioneer e-voting

There are just over 25,000 registered Swiss citizens in Australia, most of them have dual nationality alexlmx/123RF

The Swiss expat communities in Australia and Mexico have elected their delegates to the Council of the Swiss Abroad for the next four-year term – using an electronic voting system.

This content was published on July 1, 2017 - 11:00

A total of 1,378 citizens took part in the ballot – 7.4% and 6.9% respectively in each country, according to the Organisation of the Swiss AbroadExternal link (OSA).

The election, the first of its kind for the community, took place between June 12-27. The votes were counted in Geneva last Tuesday in the presence of representatives of the OSA, the foreign ministry and canton Geneva, which had provided the technical system.

The same system, CHVoteExternal link, is used regularly in some cantons for nationwide ballots in Switzerland.

The use of e-voting broadened the size of the electorate, as every Swiss citizen above the age of 18 who has registered with a Swiss embassy or consulate in their country of residence and has an email address, was eligible to take part, the OSA said in a statement.

Swiss Abroad Council

The 140-member council meets twice a year and is made up of Swiss clubs and associations abroad, as well as members of domestic institutions.

It represents the interests of the 775,000 expats around the world before the authorities and public opinion in Switzerland.

Last year, the council decided to allow Swiss abroad communities in their countries to extend their electorate.

Supporters of the new election procedure say it will help improve the legitimacy of the assembly, as only about 4% of the Swiss abroad are members of Swiss clubs.

However, opponents argue that an easing of electoral rules will deprive the 700-plus Swiss clubs of their exclusive right to send their delegates to the council.

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