Switzerland

Articles about voting issues in the Swiss Confederation.

Switzerland: Opposition against e-voting project gathers pace | SWI

A committee of politicians and computer experts is launching a people’s initiative aimed at banning online voting for at least five years, putting an end on ongoing trials with e-voting in Switzerland. Representatives from right and leftwing parties on Friday said they were hoping to win pledges from 10,000 people to collect the necessary signatures for a nationwide vote on the issue. In total, the committee needs to gather at least 100,000 signatures over 18 months. They argued that the current e-voting systems were not secure, too expensive and easy to manipulate. Hacked systems could undermine trust in Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, Green Party parliamentarian Balthasar Glättli warned. People’s Party parliamentarian and Franz Grüter added the e-voting system in use could not guarantee the secure online transmission of a ballot. The move comes after parliament last September rejected attempts to block plans for the permanent introduction of electronic voting.

Full Article: Opposition against e-voting project gathers pace - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Zurich wants to ease political participation for non-Swiss | SWI

Switzerland’s main business hub is very well connected globally and attracts many expatriates. But Zurich does not grant its foreign residents any say in political matters – an apparent contradiction in a country proud of its direct democracy. The authorities in Switzerland’s most populous city are now considering ways to enhance the participation of this important group. The city of Zurich has about 425,000 residents – 32% of whom do not hold a Swiss passport. Many are expats working for international or Swiss companies. They are highly skilled, hold good jobs and earn high salaries.

Full Article: Zurich wants to ease political participation for non-Swiss - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: E-voting system to undergo ‘hacker test’ | SWI

Next year, Swiss authorities will put one of the country’s two e-voting systems up for attack by hackers – with a prize on offer for those who break it. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), a strong backer of online voting, has welcomed the confidence test. The test, organised jointly by federal and regional authorities, will take place over four weeks sometime in spring 2019, the NZZ am Sonntag reports. According to the newspaper, the Federal Chancellery has a budget of some CHF250,000 ($247,500) to implement the contest and pay the hackers; a figure not confirmed by the authorities themselves. Contacted by swissinfo.ch, OSA Director Ariane Rustichelli said that it was “a good sign that the Federal Chancellery, which is leading the project, is reacting to and taking seriously the fears [around e-voting]. Because, for about a year and a half now, more and more critical voices are arising, including in parliament”. The OSA, which represents the interests of the 750,000 Swiss living abroad, is a heavily involved in debates around voting rights and the rolling out of online ballots. “If we manage to show that e-voting is safe, this could boost confidence in the system,” Rustichelli said.

Full Article: Swiss e-voting system to undergo ‘hacker test’ - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Flaw reported in Switzerland’s biggest e-voting system | SWI

A hacker claims to have discovered an important weakness in canton Geneva’s e-voting system to attacks that could redirect online voters to malicious websites. The canton says it is aware of the issue and introduced countermeasures years ago.  Last week, Volker Birk of the Chaos Computer Club Switzerland said he had discovered that the Geneva online voting system – the biggest in Switzerland – uses an insecure procedure to protect its web address. Birk told Swiss public television, SRF, that it took only a few minutes to discover the system’s weakness to so-called DNS cache poisoning – an attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the domain name to divert internet traffic away from legitimate servers and towards fake ones. He added that the problem had been known for decades. In a public statement on Saturdayexternal link, canton Geneva said it had been informed by SRF about the fake site, which it admitted “did not allow people to vote electronically”. 

Full Article: Flaw reported in Switzerland’s biggest e-voting system - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: The security of e-voting in Geneva questioned | The Sivertelegram

The security of e-voting in Geneva is again in doubt. In march 2015, a journalist of the RTS had shown how he had been able to vote electronically on two occasions. This time, the alert is given by the swiss broadcasting corporation SRF. The latter has proven that a hacker could very easily access the votes of the citizens. The “Chaos computer club”, an organization of hackers, which brings together about 8000 members in Europe, has indeed shown how a simple manipulation diverts the user to the official website and directed to a similar site. This fake site allows you to see the vote of the user. According to the hacker Volkler Birk, quoted by the RTS, this fault shows that “the canton of Geneva has forgotten to protect against a computer attack that dates back more than twenty years.”

Full Article: The security of e-voting in Geneva questioned | The Sivertelegram.

Switzerland: Opponents of e-voting suffer setback in parliament | Expatica Switzerland

Parliament has thrown out attempts to stall the permanent introduction of electronic voting – a decision welcomed by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). Two proposals by representatives of right and leftwing parties cited data security concerns, including cyberattacks, and were aimed at effectively blocking plans by the government to conclude more than 15 years of trials and enshrine e-voting in law as a third option – besides going to the polls and the postal vote. The House of Representatives earlier this week rejected the proposals by parliamentarians of the Swiss People’s Party and the Greens, thereby refusing to draft a bill for discussion.

Full Article: Opponents of e-voting suffer setback in parliament | News | Expatica Switzerland.

Switzerland: Swiss City Zug To Trial Voting Through Blockchain Technology | ETHNews

Zug, Switzerland, is a hub of welcoming regulation, digital currency acceptance, and blockchain-related events and companies. The local government has consistently extended a friendly hand to crypto-related projects, and its Crypto Valley Association strives to promote the region as “a global center where emerging cryptographic, blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies and businesses can thrive in a safe, supportive, and vibrant environment.” … The results of the survey are nonbinding but will give the city council valuable information about public opinion. The poll will include questions about local matters and digital IDs. Residents will be asked if they would like to use their digital IDs to participate in other government services such as libraries, payment of parking fees, submission of electronic tax returns, and regular referendums.

Full Article: Swiss City Zug To Trial Voting Through Blockchain Technology - ETHNews.com.

Switzerland: Swiss set to vote on a radical ‘sovereign money’ plan | CNBC

An upcoming referendum in the wealthy Alpine nation of Switzerland could be set to dramatically transform the global banking industry. Swiss voters go to the polls Sunday to decide whether the country should switch to a so-called sovereign money system. The referendum is attracting international interest because of how it reflects debates held by economists and lawmakers in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crash.

Full Article: Switzerland's sovereign money referendum: Here’s what you need to know.

Switzerland: Will Facebook influence the 2019 Swiss elections? | SWI

Online social network Facebook is allegedly planning to deploy its controversial “I’m a voter” button in Switzerland ahead of parliamentary elections next year. The Swiss authorities have not been officially informed by the US company, according to Swiss media reports. Republikexternal link, a Swiss online news magazine, on Wednesday quoted a report in the Schweiz am Wochenendeexternal link newspaper last month that Anika Geisel, manager of Facebook’s politics and government outreach team in Berlin, had met 20 politicians from all parties in Zurich on April 11. “The topic of the meeting was how candidates could benefit from Facebook’s campaign tools. It was intended as a promotional event for the technology company,” Republik.ch wrote. “One participant asked a question that had nothing to do with the marketing tools. Would Facebook be deploying its well-known ‘I’m a voter’ button in Switzerland? Yes, Geisel answered, the company was working on it.” 

Full Article: Will Facebook influence the 2019 Swiss elections? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: How risky are flawed e-voting systems for democracy? | SWI

A leading data protection expert has warned of future security breaches if the government’s plan to introduce e-voting at a nationwide level goes ahead. Bruno Baeriswyl, data protection commissioner in canton Zurich, urged the authorities to give up plans, announced last April, for online voting across Switzerland. Speaking on the occasion of this year’s European Data Privacy Day at the end of January, Baeriswyl said that current technology could not guarantee that ballots remain secret in votes and elections. He and other cantonal data protection commissioners argued that digitalisation could undermine democratic principles even while online systems help to simplify procedures. “The current systems for e-voting override the secret ballot in votes and elections. But it is imperative that all transactions must always be verifiable in a secure system. As a result, either we have ballot secrecy or we don’t have a secure method,” Baeriswyl said. “And this is highly risky for our democracy.”

Full Article: How risky are flawed e-voting systems for democracy? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Does a minority rule Switzerland? | SWI

Switzerland is often regarded internationally as a model of functioning democracy. But a closer look shows that Swiss democracy is far from perfect. The “rule of all” turns out to be the “rule of some”. It is September 24, 2017, a “voting Sunday” as we say here in Switzerland. Voters have the final say on a crucial reform of the old age pension system. This is a topic that will concern everyone, sooner or later. Over the course of the day it becomes apparent that the proposed reform isn’t getting a majority of votes and is going down to defeat. But the real letdown begins to be felt late in the evening, when the last municipalities send in their tallies to the election authorities.

Full Article: Does a minority rule Switzerland? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Should Swiss vote hackers be rewarded with cash? | SWI

In order to ensure the security of online voting systems used in Switzerland, the government needs to issue a challenge to the worldwide hacker community, offering rewards to anyone who can “blow holes in the system”, says a computer scientist in parliament. Since it began in 2000, Switzerland’s e-voting project has been a matter of controversy. While some have been calling for its introduction to be fast-tracked in all the country’s 26 cantons, others would like to see the project slowed. In parliament there has been a call for a moratorium on electronic voting in the whole country for four years, except for the Swiss abroad. To put an end to all the concerns and convince the critics that security and secrecy of online voting can be guaranteed, Radical Party parliamentarian Marcel Dobler thinks there needs to be an unequivocal demonstration that systems used in Switzerland are proof against computer piracy. The best way to do this, he says, is to invite hackers to target them.

Full Article: Should Swiss vote hackers be rewarded with cash? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Should people with severe mental disabilities be able to vote? | SWI

People with disabilities and placed under full guardianship are the only Swiss citizens who do not have the right to vote. This violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Switzerland ratified in 2014. Experts are now committed to overturning this inequality. People in this group are those with serious and long-term disabilities, that according to Article 136 of the Federal Constitutionexternal link, makes them ‘permanently incapable of judgement’. As they are unable to care for themselves, the Cantonal Protection Office for Children and Adults places them under full guardianship.

Full Article: Should people with severe mental disabilities be able to vote? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Deaf Swiss demand political information in sign language | SWI

Voting pamphlets and explanations of federal bills should be available online in sign language, says the Swiss Federation for the Deaf, which has handed in a petition to the federal chancellery. For the more than 10,000 people in Switzerland who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing, the voting pamphlet appears in the “wrong language”, the federation said in a statementexternal link on Monday. “Their language is sign language. Written German is a foreign language they have to struggle to learn,” it wrote. “Having to understand complex political content in this foreign language is an unnecessary hurdle which violates Swiss and international law on barrier-free access to information.” The federation explained that without appropriate measures, “the free formation of opinions and therefore political participation is made more difficult – if not impossible – for affected people”. 

Full Article: Deaf Swiss demand political information in sign language - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: How long before all Swiss expats can use e-voting? | SWI

The use of electronic voting in Switzerland has been making slow progress amid setbacks over security concerns. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is pushing for the introduction of e-voting for all Swiss expats by the next parliamentary elections in October 2019. Critics complain that the number of cantons offering their registered Swiss citizens abroad the option of e-voting falls short of expectations. In all, 775,000 Swiss citizens live overseas and if you consider that e-voting trials using online technology have been underway since 2004, the number of potential beneficiaries is rather modest. About 158,000 expats from eight cantons (see map below) have the option of participating in the September 24 votes on the controversial old age pension reform, food security and some cantonal issues using a secure computer programme. Eighteen other cantons, including the populous cantons of Zurich and Vaud, do not offer e-voting.

Full Article: How long before all Swiss expats can use e-voting? - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Two Swiss cantons get the go-ahead for online voting | The Local

The Swiss government has given the green light to two cantons to resume online voting in time for the next set of referendums in September. The cantons of St Gallen and Aargau will be able to resume e-voting, joining six other cantons which already offer the system. Online voting was used previously in St Gallen and Aargau between 2010 and 2015, when the government banned the practice before that year’s general election, due to security loopholes.  During that time, both cantons used the Vote électronique system which involved a total of nine cantons before the government withdrew its authorization.

Full Article: Two Swiss cantons get the go-ahead for online voting - The Local.

Switzerland: Swiss e-voting poised for expanded roll-out | SWI

The Swiss authorities are preparing to expand e-voting to more cantons, which would give more citizens the chance to cast their votes electronically. The government on Wednesday said the system should be expanded from its test phase. Until now, 14 cantons have at various times allowed Swiss living abroad to vote electronically. Three cantons (Neuchatel, Geneva and Basel City) have operated e-voting systems for Swiss-based citizens. Up to two-thirds of citizens who have been eligible to vote electronically have grabbed the opportunity, proving that strong demand exists, the government said.

Full Article: Swiss e-voting poised for expanded roll-out - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Swiss Post launches demo version for e-voting | SWI

Swiss citizens of some cantons who live abroad have a choice of two systems with which to vote online in votes in their home country. One of these is offered by Swiss Post. It has now put a demo version online, which people can use to simulate their participation. More than just an advertising stunt? A trial goes smoothly: First, I can download a digital voting card from Swiss Post’s special websiteexternal link (in the country’s four national languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh) which I would usually have received by post. This has three codes.

Full Article: Swiss Post launches demo version for e-voting - SWI swissinfo.ch.

Switzerland: Journalist who proved electoral flaws convicted of fraud | The Local

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.

Full Article: Journalist who proved electoral flaws convicted of fraud - The Local.

Switzerland: Journalist appeals e-voting fraud conviction | SWI

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.