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OSA advice

02.05.2015 – Legal Department of the OSA

The news has just shown a Swiss citizen returning from abroad who was able to vote twice in the recent popular vote. How has this come about?

It is quite true that a Swiss citizen returning from abroad received two lots of voting papers for the ballot held on 8 March 2015: they were sent to his address abroad and then to his new address following his move back to Switzerland, after the voting papers had already been received abroad. In this regard, it should be noted that Swiss citizens living abroad must inform the Swiss office (embassy or consulate) where they are registered of any change of address. When people return to the country after the voting papers have been sent abroad, it can happen that the papers are received twice. However, it is illegal and an offence punishable under criminal law to vote twice on the same matter. This constitutes electoral fraud under article 282 of the Swiss Criminal Code. People who receive voting papers twice therefore only have the right to vote once. A criminal offence is otherwise committed.

The OSA’s Legal Department provides general information on Swiss law in the areas which specifically concern the Swiss Abroad. It does not provide information on foreign law or intervene in disputes between private parties.