Swiss Review 4/2022

tons are interested in rolling out pilots in 2023. These are Basel-Stadt, St Gallen and Thurgau. Grisons wants to start in 2024. BFH has also developed a source code The fact that all eyes are currently on Swiss Post is due to a lack of competition. Work on the e-voting system pioneered by the canton of Geneva has continued, albeit in just one area. A team at the Berne University of Applied Sciences (BFH) has continued to develop the source code since 2019. The team had already been consulted for the cryptographic specifications at an earlier juncture. When its service contract ended with the canton of Geneva, it carried on working within the parameters of a federally run e-government project. “We were able to implement all security-related parts of the system in full,” says IT professor Rolf Haenni. Their efforts have paid off, with the publicly available code now reaching a high-quality level, he adds. Others will be able to build on this expertise. “But no company has yet come forward, unfortunately.” Young people do a lot by smartphone Developing an e-voting system is an extremely complex and expensive undertaking, in which Swiss Post has already invested a lot of time and money, says Rustichelli. “We hope that Swiss Post stays the course.” Swiss Post, for its part, is keen to stress the strategic importance of the project. Spokesperson Silvana Grellmann: “We are talking about the future of Swiss Post in an increasingly digital world, so what we have here is an essential investment in the Swiss Post of tomorrow.” Surveys show that voters want an additional means of voting, and their voices will only get louder. “As far as young people are concerned, you can do everything on your smartphone. Try explaining to them in the near future that they can do everything on their phones, except vote.” Swiss Post has underlined its intention to make an e-voting system available from 2023. However, it is prioritising security over speed. “The biggest challenge is maintaining trust in our solution,” CEO Roberto Cirillo recently told the media. The company is therefore being very open about how it detects and irons out flaws. In 2021, it published its source code and launched a bug bounty program. It has since received around 130 tip-offs from hackers and paid out a total of 97,000 Swiss francs in rewards. It has not disclosed how much it is spending on e-voting otherwise. There will be another independent review once Swiss Post has improved its IT solution. Only when the results of this review are available can the cantons get on with requesting approval for new trials. Depending on circumstances, they will have to change their infrastructure, existing processes, interfaces with other systems, and voter identification cards accordingly. “Based on various factors and deadlines, this integration work will take one to one-and-a-half years to complete,” says Barbara Schüpbach-Guggenbühl, chair of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Chancellors. This is why the plan to make e-voting available in time for the federal elections in autumn 2023 is ambitious, she adds. The chances of it happening are unlikely. The 788,000 or so Swiss who live abroad will probably have to rely on postal voting. This would be regrettable, says Rustichelli. “Voting papers often arrive too late, so many will be unable to exercise their political rights.” “The biggest challenge is maintaining trust in our solution.” Roberto Cirillo, CEO Swiss Post Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 17