How does e-voting work? Anyone can now try out casting a vote on Swiss Post’s test platform
Anyone who wishes to can now familiarize themselves with and try out e-voting. Swiss Post has provided a test platform on which anyone can run through the electronic vote casting process. Background: Swiss Post’s new e-voting system will be used for the first time in three cantons for the votes to be held on 18 June. Over the years, Swiss Post has developed a system that enables the verification of the entire voting process and ensures complete verifiability.
In recent years, Swiss Post has worked intensively on producing a new and secure e-voting solution for Switzerland. It will be used for the first time in the three cantons of Basel-Stadt, St. Gallen and Thurgau at the votes to be held on 18 June. Swiss Post’s e-voting solution digitizes the secure transport of confidential information – a step consistent with digitization. But what does this solution look like exactly for voters? How can e-voting be used in practical terms? And how complex is the voting process for users? The system’s test platform now provides an answer to all these questions. Anyone wishing to can now try out and familiarize themselves with the e-voting system.
So how does the test platform work? In an initial step, users must download a digital voter identification card. For real contests, voters receive the voting card with the information on e-voting and the other official voting papers by post. Users log in to the e-voting system by entering the start voting key, which can be found on the voting card, as well as an additional authentication feature. This feature may differ from canton to canton for real votes: for example, the year or date of birth. All users use the pre-defined year of birth 1980 on the test platform. In a few steps, the test person is taken through the process to the end where the trial vote is cast (demo.evoting.ch).
84 percent of Swiss people would like to vote electronically.
What is at the moment only possible in a notional test vote will become reality on 18 June in the cantons of Basel-Stadt, St. Gallen and Thurgau: selected voters will be able to cast their vote at the ballot box, by post or, for the first time, electronically. This means the persons selected in the cantons mentioned can now not only shop or pay invoices online, but also vote digitally. This solution meets a need and also makes everyday life easier for the Swiss people when it comes to voting. According to a Deloitte study, 84 percent of the Swiss population would like to be able to cast their vote electronically sometimes or always. “We firmly believe Swiss Post will make everyday life easier for people in Switzerland and create added value. Everyday activities obviously take place in the physical world at the moment, but increasingly online too,” explains Nicole Burth, Head of Communication Services at Swiss Post. Generations of people have described postal voting as practical and straightforward over the past 30 years. But today a growing number of people require an additional way of voting: the option of voting online or via computer, smartphone or tablet. “We believe this demand will grow. The younger generation can do practically everything on their smartphones in everyday life. That’s why we expect the same to apply to political participation for young people in the near future,” explains Nicole Burth. Swiss Post aims to ensure the reliable and secure transport of information in the digital world and has developed a system for this purpose in Switzerland for Switzerland. The digital voting solution is a step that’s consistent with digitization. Swiss Post is making a major contribution in this respect and is the right partner with the expertise required. The system enables the verification of the entire voting process. This means it provides complete verifiability – for the first time ever in Switzerland.
Continual development of the system
Since early 2021, Swiss Post has been inviting experts from all over the world to put the e-voting system through its paces. Since mid-2021, independent experts have also reviewed the e-voting system in several stages on behalf of the Confederation. Based on the reports provided, Swiss Post has been able to further improve its system. Swiss Post will continue to rely on the expertise of specialists from all over the world in the future. After all: security is a never-ending process. Swiss Post will continually improve the system to respond to the latest technological developments in the field of information security. The testing will also continue as part of a bug-bounty programme where hackers can still report findings. The procedure is internationally recognized as the best possible method and has proven a highly effective instrument as part of Swiss Post’s IT security strategy. The transparency of the process also meets the Confederation’s requirements regarding e-voting in Switzerland. The law stipulates that trials can only be carried out on e-voting systems that are published on a consistent basis.