Swiss Review 4/2022

EVELINE RUTZ We are making good strides. This was what the Federal Chancellery and Swiss Post essentially had to say about e-voting in April. They were reacting to a report in which independent experts, who had put the e-voting system through its paces, concluded that “significant” progress had been made. For example, e-voting documentation is now clearer, more comprehensive and better structured than it was in 2019. The source code has also attracted a great deal of positive feedback. But the experts have pointed out vulnerabilities as well. One of these is the cryptographic protocol, which is used to verify the votes cast without violating the confidentiality of the voting procedure. The cryptographic protocol is an essential part of the security framework. Swiss Post has already heeded some of the findings and says that the project is now in the “next development phase”. It intends to complete this phase during the course of 2023. E-voting has been a long-running saga Switzerland has already been palpably close to delivering e-voting a few E-voting – all hopes rest on Swiss Post It is currently not possible to vote online in Switzerland. If everything goes according to plan, cantons will be able to start piloting e-voting again in 2023. Swiss Post should have its e-voting system up and running by then. times in recent years. But there have always been setbacks – a case of two steps forward, one step back. E-voting was first piloted in 2004. It was even possible in some cantons to vote in the national elections via computer, tablet or smartphone in 2015. E-voting was very popular among Swiss Abroad, with the “Fifth Switzerland” casting around a third more votes than normal. Over 300 pilots took place in 15 cantons. This was until the Federal Council decided to abort the project in 2019, after the canton of Geneva and Swiss Post had pulled their IT solutions due to financial considerations and security flaws respectively. The federal government subsequently adjusted the parameters for a new attempt at e-voting. It wanted stricter security and an open-source strategy, while announcing that independent specialists would conduct reviews. The first such check has now taken place. Three cantons intend to trial e-voting in 2023 Ariane Rustichelli, Director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), is cautiously optimistic. “We trust the process and hope that Swiss Post can quickly implement the requested improvements,” she says, noting that supporters of e-voting have already been left disappointed more than once. “But we will only believe it when we see it.” Political willingness to facilitate e-voting in the foreseeable future is likely to have increased during the pandemic – a crisis that showed how valuable digital services can be. Rustichelli: “E-government helps to safeguard our direct democracy.” The OSA director reveals that some can- “We trust the process and hope that Swiss Post can quickly implement the requested improvements.” Ariane Rustichelli, Director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 16 Politics