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Security risk Swiss e-voting rollout hampered by US IT system

The government wanted to roll out e-voting to 86,000 expats and 100,000 resident Swiss during the October federal elections

(Keystone)

According to Swiss public radio RTS, the use of an IT security system developed in the United States was partly responsible for the cabinet’s rejection of canton Fribourg’s bid to introduce e-voting during the October federal elections. 

Fribourg was a part of a nine-canton consortium whose bid to introduce e-voting was rejected by the cabinet on August 12. The nine cantons were Fribourg, Zurich, Glarus, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, St Gallen, Graubünden, Aargau and Thurgau. The reason cited for the rejection was the presence of technical flaws that affected voting secrecy. 

Two e-voting systems proposed by cantons Geneva (also to be used by cantons Lucerne and Basel City) and Neuchâtel were approved by the cabinet allowing the four cantons to offer e-voting to 34,000 Swiss expats registered with them. 

The Swiss government had initially hoped to extend e-voting facilities to 86,000 expats but the rejection of the nine-consortium bid was a big blow to that target. The cantons were accused by the federal government of not cooperating with each other enough in coming up with a system that would meet the minimum requirements. 

On Wednesday Pierre Mauron, a leftwing Social Democrat politician from Fribourg, said it was hard to understand why the canton had used American technology while other successful Swiss systems existed such as in Geneva. 

“It’s dangerous to give the development of such a programme to a US company when we are talking about the protection of data and when we know that the Geneva platform is entirely state-run and transparent and can be verified by the local population,” he told RTS. 

Anja Wyden Guelpa, an official from canton Geneva’s Chancellery, said they would be willing to welcome Fribourg and other cantons to accept their system in the future to share security costs.

 

swissinfo.ch

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