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No e-vote counting at open-air assembly

The tradition of the Glarus open-air assemblies began more than 600 years ago (Keystone)

The tradition of the Glarus open-air assemblies began more than 600 years ago


The government of canton Glarus has come out against the use of electronic vote counting devices during the traditional open-air assembly.

Based on an expert study, the government decided that the current system of approximate estimations of the number of raised hands for votes at the annual assembly on the town square should be continued.

“It does not make sense to interfere with a proven procedure as there is no need for a change,” the government said in a statement.

In its report to the cantonal parliament, the government said there are no reliable technical devices available for vote counting and the development of such a system would cost too much.

Over the past five years, there were five votes where the authorities had to carry out a repeated estimation of the majority of votes, the report added.

No obvious majorities

In 2008, the Glarus parliament called on the government to commission an in-depth study to evaluate a method which can be applied in cases where there is no obvious majority among the participants of the open-air assembly.

The government added that the present system is widely accepted and the Supreme Court in 2006 rejected an appeal against a vote.

Nevertheless, the government says it is aware of certain “disadvantages of the open-air democracy”, notably limited participation, a lack of secret ballots and “a certain margin of error” in the estimated vote majority carried out by the head of the cantonal government.

Glarus and Appenzell Inner Rhodes are the only two cantons where citizens meet every year to decide on political issues. Up to 12,000 people take part in the Glarus assembly.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch



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