First eVoting Trials in Swiss Federal Elections Carried Out Successfully

Four cantons successfully conducted eVoting trials during the National Council elections held on 23 October 2011, marking the first time that pilots were carried out in a Swiss federal election.

The trials involved 3562 Swiss expatriates registered in the cantons of Basel-City, St. Gallen, Graubünden and Aargau. Approximately 22,000 people were eligible to vote by electronic means, which constituted 0.4 per cent of the 5.09 million qualified voters. Up to 53.1 per cent of Swiss expatriate voters registered in the cantons to participate in the trials made use of eVoting. Only expatriates residing in a EU Member State or a Participating State of the Wassenaar Arrangement can cast their vote electronically, which makes up about 90 per cent of this voter group.

The eVoting success achieved by the four cantons is owed to the fact that they met the technical and logistical challenges posed by these trials; the entire process remained trouble-free and without any malfunctions. This inaugural use of eVoting during the federal elections follows several successful trials conducted during federal referendums. This particular situation required the implementation of preliminary technical adjustments.

As the deadlines for delivery of voting equipment are even shorter for elections than for referendums, Swiss expatriate voters were often unable to participate in Parliamentary elections. eVoting overcomes this issue to a great extent. The positive eVoting experience of the 2011 elections has strengthened the Confederation’s resolve to allow the majority of qualified Swiss expatriates to vote electronically in the National Council elections of 2015.