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Online democracy Opposition against e-voting project gathers pace

Panel of speakers presenting e-voting moratorium initiative

Representatives from several political parties as well as IT experts are behind the initiative trying to put an end to e-voting. 

(Keystone/Anthony Anex)

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.

The government for its part wants to continue 15 years of trials and enshrine e-voting in law as a third option - besides going to the polls and the postal vote.

In December, it put its plans for e-voting to consultation among political parties, the cantons, institutions and organisations in a bid to present a bill for parliament at a later stage.

The government argues that more than 300 trials with a limited scope have been carried out successfully over the past years.

However, e-voting projects suffered several setbacks in the past, notably canton Geneva abandoning its own platform on cost grounds. In 2015, the government stopped trials with an American e-voting system due to security concerns.

Swiss Abroad

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), representing expatriate Swiss citizens around the world, has been pushing the introduction of e-voting.

In November, it handed in a petition calling on the authorities to make electronic voting available for expats by 2021.

Some 172,000 Swiss abroad have registered to take part in votes and elections in Switzerland. In total, the Swiss abroad community has just over 751,000 members.

Expatriate Swiss citizens argue the ballot papers often arrive too late for them to take part in Swiss votes due to problems with the postal systems in their countries of residence.

swissinfo.ch/urs

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