Twenty years ago today, the people of Appenzell Ausser Rhoden in eastern Switzerland decided to do away with their “open-air assembly” method of public voting. The tradition of gathering in public to take decisions for their community by a show of hands went back to the late Middle Ages.
The final open air assembly in Appenzell Ausser Rhoden was held on April 27, 1997. Five months later, on September 28, a ballot – actually using pieces of paper – was held on whether to keep or end the tradition of open-air voting. 54% said end it.
Open-air assemblies still take place for voting purposes in cantons Glarus and Appenzell Inner Rhoden.