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E-Voting is the way to uphold the voting right of the “Fifth Switzerland”

23.01.2019 – OSA

Many Swiss citizens living abroad are only able to participate in federal elections and votes with the help of e-voting. For this reason, the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, in its petition submitted on 30 November 2018, demands that everyone in the “Fifth Switzerland” should be able to vote electronically by 2021.

The petition was well received around the globe: OSA was able to submit 11,492 signatures collected online from 150 countries to the Federal Chancellery on 30 November. This figure corresponds to almost seven percent of the 172, 000 Swiss Abroad included in an electoral register (as of March 2018) and underlines the importance of the issue for the “Fifth Switzerland”. The core demand of the broadly supported petition addressed to Parliament and the Federal Council is that in future – namely by 2021 – all Swiss voters living abroad should be able to vote electronically. For many people, e-voting is often the only voting method that allows them to take part in votes and elections within the voting period. This is because documents sent by post often arrive too late.

Through the petition, OSA is also opposing the growing criticism of e-voting. The Canton of Geneva has only just decided to abandon its e-voting system by February 2020 at the latest (see page 31). From OSA’s point of view, this is regrettable because the security of the system was never in question. The decision taken in Geneva was solely based on financial considerations. It is therefore also regrettable that it was not possible to find a solution with the Federal Chancellery and other cantons. OSA believes that it is important that the federal government and the cantons also commit themselves to technological development in order to guarantee the security of the system - especially its individual and universal verifiability.

Picture: The OSA’s Executive Board and Directors in front of the Federal Palace in Berne on the day the petition was submitted, holding a huge USB stick representing the important issue of e-voting. Image Adrian Moser