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Experts say Swiss e-vote system is improved, but not perfect

Swiss Post's proposed e-voting system needs to eliminate flaws before it can be rolled out, according to independent experts. Keystone/Martial Trezzini

A proposed new online voting system in Switzerland still needs technical improvements, according to a report by independent experts.

This content was published on April 20, 2022 - 15:28
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The Federal Chancellery, which oversees e-voting on behalf of the government, said the system being developed by the state-owned Swiss Post had been significantly updated since 2019, but further enhancements were required.

A first series of examination reports identified flaws related to the cryptographic protocol, which helps to ensure verifiability while preserving the secrecy of the vote.

The experts also criticised shortcomings in the documentation of security aspects, the chancellery saidExternal link on Wednesday.

They gave good marks to the source code and noted that none of the hacker attacks carried out during an intrusion test were successful.

The chancellery commissioned the examination of the Swiss Post’s e-voting system last July. It is part of a planned redesign of e-voting trials after years of failed attempts.

Swiss PostExternal link said on Wednesday that it had proposed solutions for the issues or had already implemented upgrades.

The system will be submitted to independent examination again before it is released, the chancellery said.

Shelved then resumed

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

The government is due to present the legal basis for a resumption of trials with e-voting by the middle of this year, which would allow cantonal authorities to apply for participation from next year at the earliest.

At least three of the 26 cantons have declared interest, a spokesman for the chancellery told the Keystone-SDA news agency.

Opponents of e-voting have repeatedly warned that the security risks involved in less-than-perfect systems are a threat to democracy.

Supporters for their part say the offer of e-voting is crucial notably for the community of expatriate Swiss citizens as well as for the younger generation in general and for visually impaired people.

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