E-voting starts for Swiss abroad
Online voting has begun for some Swiss living abroad ahead of a referendum on September 27.
Under a scheme adopted in canton Geneva around 15,600 Swiss abroad are eligible to vote online from Friday for the first time on the two issues of disability insurance and public education.
The e-vote ends on September 26. A questionnaire will be sent to users after the vote to find out how the option is viewed.
The introduction of electronic voting for all Swiss citizens was given a boost in February when more than 70 per cent of voters in Geneva decided formally to enshrine electronic voting in the constitution, making it the first of Switzerland's 26 cantons to do so.
Others have expressed an interest in adopting the system and tests have been underway in several cantons since 2003. In November around 6,000 Basel residents living abroad will be able to vote for the first time in another referendum.
The governments of eight more cantons - Fribourg, Zurich, Aargau, Solothurn, Thurgau, Schaffhausen, St Gallen and Graubünden - announced on Friday that they are to work together to enable residents living abroad to vote electronically.
One third of the Swiss abroad have their voting rights in one of those cantons.
Switzerland is at the forefront of efforts to introduce electronic voting and e-government in Europe. But progress is slow because of the country's federalist political system and multilingualism.
At last month's Congress of the Swiss Abroad, Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova said the authorities aimed to grant e-voting options for at least 50 per cent of the expatriate community in 2012. The rest would obtain access to the service over the following years.
About 680,000 Swiss citizens lived abroad last year, of whom more than 125,000 have registered to participate in ballots in Switzerland.
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