Reporters without Borders has condemned a Swiss court’s decision to convict a journalist of electoral fraud after he voted twice in order to prove failures in the system. Joël Boissard, who works for Swiss broadcaster RTS, was fined, ordered to pay court costs and given a further suspended fine after being found guilty in early November, according to news agencies. The incident occurred last year when Boissard, who had recently moved house, received two sets of voting documents for federal and cantonal elections on March 8th 2015. Assuming the online system would prevent him from voting twice, he tried to do so – and succeeded. Boissard immediately contacted the electoral authorities to report what he had done and ask them to explain the anomaly, he told news agencies.
Articles about voting issues in the Swiss Confederation.
A Swiss television journalist is to appeal a conviction for electoral fraud after demonstrating for a news report that it was possible to vote twice electronically on a single issue. He was able to do this in March 2015 having been mistakenly sent two sets of voting forms following a change of address. He alerted the authorities to the issue, but three weeks later was indicted by Geneva prosecutors. In early November, he was sentenced by a Bern court to a two-day suspended prison sentence and a fine of CHF400 after exposing the e-voting system’s shortcomings. His journalistic research was found by the court to be no defence against the crime.
Switzerland: In referendum, Switzerland votes for meatier surveillance law by large margin | Ars Technica
Swiss citizens have backed by a large margin a new law that will expand government surveillance powers, following a national referendum held in Switzerland on Sunday. In total, 65.5 percent were in favour, and 34.5 percent against. Under the new law, Switzerland’s intelligence agency, the Service de renseignement de la Confédération (SRC), will be allowed to break into computers and install malware, spy on phone and Internet communications, and place microphones and video cameras in private locations. “This is not generalised surveillance, it’s letting the intelligence services do their job,” said Swiss Christian Democratic party vice-president Yannick Buttet, according to the Guardian. However, Swiss parliamentarian and leading member of the leftwing Social Democrats Jean Christophe Schwaab disagreed: “This law seeks to introduce mass observation and preventive surveillance. Both methods are not efficient and go against the basic rights of citizens.”
As competition heats up, the Geneva cantonal government has launched an e-voting promotional campaign in a bid to win additional partners and clients for its system of electronic voting. Currently, only six of Switzerland’s 26 cantons offer remote online voting to a limited number of their citizens. The long-term trials with e-voting suffered a severe setback last year after the Swiss government stopped the use of an American system on security grounds. Since then, there has been a head-to-head contest between two technologies licensed by the national authorities: a home-grown e-voting system, developed by the authorities of canton Geneva, and Swiss Post, which cooperates with the private Spanish company Scytl.
… Women in Switzerland didn’t get the vote until 1971. The men of Switzerland, over and over, exercised their democratic right to deny voting rights to their mothers, daughters, and sisters. They had time to change their minds. Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Swiss adult males began gathering in town squares for public balloting in 1291. To this day, to amend the national constitution, the entire nation must vote. Democracy in Switzerland is direct—and bottom up. Constitutional rights aren’t changed by legislators; change requires national referendums. Since the 1880s Swiss women, in growing numbers, had asked the voters—meaning men—to give them the vote. And the men kept saying no, which, in a direct democracy, is their right. Democracy and progress aren’t always friends.
Swiss voters on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to guarantee an income to Switzerland’s residents, whether or not they are employed, an idea that has also been raised in other countries amid an intensifying debate over wealth disparities and dwindling employment opportunities. About 77 percent of voters rejected a plan to give a basic monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs, or about $2,560, to each adult, and 625 francs for each child under 18, regardless of employment status, to fight poverty and social inequality and guarantee a “dignified” life to everyone. Switzerland was the first country to vote on such a universal basic income plan, but other countries and cities either have been considering the idea or have started trial programs. Finland is set to introduce a pilot program for a random sample of about 10,000 adults who will each receive a monthly handout of 550 euros, about $625. The intent is to turn the two-year trial into a national plan if it proves successful. In the Netherlands, Utrecht is leading a group of municipalities that are experimenting with similar pilot projects.
Foreigners can’t vote in Switzerland yet account for a quarter of the Swiss population. Should this change or do voting rights need to be ‘earned’, as one Swiss politician said? Is this acceptable in a fully-fledged direct democracy? Swiss and German politicians are divided in their opinions. “Swiss living abroad are also foreigners in their countries of residency. They often have a firm view of what’s happening in Switzerland, and at the same time they take part in political life in their adopted countries,” Walter Leimgruber, President of the Federal Migration Commission, pointed out at a recent event. Leimgruber’s conclusion is that the Swiss living abroad are citizens of two states, and living proof that political engagement is possible in two societies. In his view, they’re a good example of how foreigners can enjoy political participation wherever they live, regardless of nationality.
One year after the Swiss electorate accepted a constitutional amendment allowing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the question is again being put to the vote. Pro-life groups are attacking the law implementing the amendment via a referendum, but they are not the only ones going into battle – parliamentarians across the political spectrum also believe the new text goes too far. As soon as the constitutional article was accepted (by 61.9% of voters), conservative Christian circles called for a referendum against changing the law on medically assisted reproduction. In December 2015, over 58,000 valid signatures were handed to the Federal Chancellery – some 8,000 more than the required minimum.
The OSA has called for an end to discrimination of the about 147,000 Swiss living abroad who have registered to take part in votes and elections. “It is difficult to understand how the government gives priority to cantonal autonomy as the introduction of e-voting for the Swiss Abroad is a task of the [national] government,” says OSA co-director Ariane Rustichelli. She says last year’s parliamentary elections are a case in point to prove that the current policy of leaving the introduction to the individual 26 cantons has been a failure. “Registered Swiss Abroad citizens of four cantons had the right to use e-voting in 2015. This has already been the case in 2011,” she says.
Swiss voters have decisively rejected tougher rules on expelling foreign criminals which the country’s political far-right had hoped would win support on the back of a wave of anti-immigration sentiment sweeping across Europe. The “enforcement initiative”, proposed by the powerful Swiss People’s party (SVP), could have seen foreigners ejected for relatively minor offences, such as threatening public officials. But it was defeated in a referendum on Sunday, with 59 per cent voting against, according to final results. Its rejection followed a counter offensive mobilised by business leaders, civil organisations and academics against the SVP’s populist campaign, which included posters showing black sheep representing foreign criminals.