Citizens' rights Swiss Post launches demo version for e-voting




Die Post verspricht mit ihrem E-Voting-System einen hohen Sicherheits-Standard.

(Keystone)

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.

I enter the first code and a fictitious year of birth, and off I go. I can vote on the different issues in the same way as I am used to with an "analogue" ballot card. I just use a mouse rather than a pen to make my choice.

In the second step, my entries are "sealed". I can use check digits to verify that the details have been transmitted correctly to a server. Then in the last step, I enter another code to "post" my virtual ballot card.

Screenshot of the demo e-vote site  

Screenshot of the demo e-vote site  

(swissinfo.ch)

"The demo version isn't an advertising stunt," says Oliver Flüeler, spokesman for Swiss Post. "We want to show people what e-voting is and how simple our system is to use."

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) welcomes this move by Swiss Post.

"It shows people how easy the system is to use," says spokesman Sasha Edelmann.

He emphasises that the system developed by Canton Geneva, CHVoteexternal link, has also already been presented to various members of parliament and cantonal representatives. This promotional tour of Switzerland took place in autumn 2016.

Last November, Fribourg was the first canton to successfully use the system developed by Swiss Postexternal link in collaboration with Scytl, a private Spanish company, for Swiss voters living abroad.

In the votes on 12 February, the expatriate community of Canton Neuchâtel also used this new channel. Swiss Post has now been able to acquire Basel-City as its third canton, which had previously backed CHVote.

Security crucial

Swiss Post, one of three providers of similar electronic voting systems (the third is Swiss company Emineoexternal link), stressed that its technology guarantees encryption from start to finish.

Security when casting votes is the key issue for e-voting. Its critics complain that the risk of votes being manipulated is still too great.

In contrast, Swiss Post is "confident that only transparent e-voting solutions can succeed in the long run", according to its press release.

"Swiss Post has therefore published documentation on its e-voting process and IT security measures to ensure that experts can evaluate the quality of the system."

Competition

Competition is fierce on the e-voting market, as it offers a great deal of potential for growth in the coming years. Emineo has emerged as a third player in the game.

The IT company has criticised the fact that the cantons of St Gallen and Aargau have only examined the two systems CHVote and Swiss Post, which it believes is tantamount to isolation and prevents any kind of competition, as co-founder Werner Zecchino told swissinfo.ch last November.

It therefore submitted appeals against both procurement processes, but later retracted them as the chances of success were considered too low.

Would you like to be able to use e-voting? Let us know what you think.


Adapted from German, swissinfo.ch


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