Campaigners withdraw initiative for e-vote moratorium

The initiative calling for a ban on e-voting was launched by a committee of right-wing and left-wing parties in March last year. © Keystone/Alexandra Wey

A people’s initiative aimed at effectively banning the introduction of e-voting in Switzerland has been suspended.

This content was published on June 23, 2020 - 15:16

The campaign committee announced that the government’s restrictions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic made it too difficult to continue collecting signatures for its proposal to impose a five-year e-vote moratorium.

The group said it had gathered some 50,000 signatures – about half of the required quota – since March last year for a nationwide vote. But it was not sure whether it would be possible to achieve the necessary number by next February, the committee explained.

“The protection measures [for the signature collectors and the public] by the Federal Chancellery are of little practical value,” the committee said on Monday.

The group added that some of its aims had already been reached, since the government dropped plans 12 months ago to offer e-voting as a permanent feature of the Swiss direct democracy system.

“The authorities have acknowledged the flaws [in the systems used for e-vote trials] and agreed a moratorium,” it said.

A proposal is also pending in parliament calling on the government to shelve e-voting trials following a series of technical setbacks and growing security concerns.

There are currently no e-voting systems available in Switzerland after two providers withdrew, or stopped developing, their systems.

Redesign

The government and the cantonal authorities have resumed talks on a possible resumption of e-voting trials suspended last year.

The Federal Chancellery said on Tuesday that the aim was to revise the security requirements in cooperation with Swiss and foreign experts.

“The aim is to establish stable trial operations using the latest generation of e-voting systems, which are fully verifiable,” a statement said.

Proposals for a redesign of the trial phase – initially launched in 2002 – will be submitted to the government before the end of this year, according to the chancellery.

E-distribution

In another development, parliament earlier this month rejected a proposal to introduce so-called e-distribution for expatriate Swiss citizens.

A plan by a member of the House of Representatives wanted to send online vote documents to registered expat Swiss who could then send back their ballot papers by post, or by casting their vote at Swiss consulates.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has been pushing for the introduction of e-voting for expat citizens around the world, arguing postal services are often too slow and unreliable.


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