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Historic SMS vote deemed ballot box success

(Keystone Archive)

The first ever vote by mobile phone has passed off without any major hitches in the Swiss town of Bülach.

More than 11 per cent of the electorate used the Short Messaging System (SMS) to cast their vote in a local poll on Sunday.

The ballot is part of a series of trials in several regions of the country to introduce e-voting nationwide.

Officials said 445 citizens of Bülach - or 11.6 per cent - used the text messaging system, while another 25.7 per cent voted over the internet.

The majority of 62.7 per cent sent their ballot sheets by mail or went to the polling booths.

Turnout was 41.5 per cent, which is above average, according to Beat Kocher, mayor of Bülach – a town near Zurich.

"The vote went smoothly, like Swiss clockwork," he added.

He said the high turnout proved that e-voting is popular and has potential.

Teething problems

However, some citizens complained that they had trouble identifying their PIN codes.

The voters were given a unique ID through the post. They also had to enter a personal code and their date of birth before sending their vote.

Citizens were asked to decide on a proposal to introduce a 30kmh speed restriction for vehicles. Two thirds of voters rejected the plan.

The new technology was tested for safety and underwent a trial run during student elections at Zurich University last year.

E-voting

The first test of internet voting in Switzerland took place in January 2003 in the commune of Anières outside Geneva.

Several other live tests have taken place in the meantime and are scheduled in three cantons, including Sunday's by-election in Neuchâtel for a seat in the Senate.

The federal authorities are due to review the e-voting trials next year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

1994: Postal voting introduced in Switzerland.
2003: First live test of internet voting in local poll in Anières near Geneva.
2005: First SMS vote in local poll in Bülach near Zürich.
2006: Federal authorities to review e-voting trials.

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