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E-voting welcomed despite security concerns

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An overwhelming majority of Swiss citizens has come out in favour of introducing the possibility of remote online voting, but many are wary of possible technical flaws, according to an opinion poll.

The survey, commissioned by the Centre for Democracy Studies and published on Monday, found that more than two out of three respondents across age groups, gender and party political affiliation would like to see e-voting for all citizens.

Trials with e-voting have been underway since 2003 in different cantons, notably involving registered members of the Swiss Abroad community and a limited number of domestic voters. There is a maximum 10% limit for referendums and 30% for constitutional amendments.

In June’s nationwide ballots, only about 152,000 of the total 5.2 million citizens were eligible for online voting. 

However, the trials suffered a setback last year when the authorities drastically reduced the number of beneficiaries due to security concerns. Currently only six out of the country’s 26 cantons can take part in the e-vote trials.

“The results of the survey show that citizens are aware of the risks of digital ballots,” the research centre said in a statement on Monday.

But the respondents say the introduction of e-voting at a broad level is a logical consequence of digitalisation at work and in everyday life.


The survey says that support for e-voting drops with age, but there is a majority in favour, even among those above the age of 70. Above average support was also noted among respondents with higher professional skills and residents in urban areas.

Most respondents said e-voting was more convenient than voting by post.

However, 61% also found that the electronic system was more likely to be manipulated and nearly as many were concerned that foreign secret services could tap into the system.

Confidence in e-voting is noticeably lower compared with traditional methods of casting the ballot sheet at a public polling station or sending it in via post. On a scale of confidence of 1-10, e-voting was given 6.6, nearly two points behind the other procedures.

The researchers concluded that a majority of respondents agreed with the authorities that security must be a priority with e-voting and had to precede any attempt to introduce it as quickly as possible.

The survey was conducted among 1,523 people across Switzerland between April 11-21 by the Link institute specialising in social, market and media research.




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