Electronic voting

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Under electronic voting (e-voting) originally any electronic aids were meant to vote and the counting of votes. This included, for example, the use of voting computers in the polling station or initial approaches to elections via the Internet (i-voting) from the home PC.






For executive, legislative, judicial, administration and citizens, residents, organizations, companies
(e- service public ) including:

Electronic voting

ICT systems

Today it is about reliable, secure systems that support electronic voting via the Internet (possibly also via mobile devices). In accordance with the current state of IT / ICT , the data are processed in other systems, from which they are (of course) strictly separated. Of course, voting secrecy must also be guaranteed. The so-called verifiability must also ensure that malfunctions in the voting / election process, software errors, human errors or deliberate manipulation attempts can be recognized and corrected. This also means that voters can reliably check that their voice has reached the system unchanged and has not been manipulated - for example by a malicious program on the computer used.

The English term e-voting (e- from electronic) is often used, and more rarely also e-balloting (e-voting). With E-Collecting be ICT systems referred that support collecting signatures - for petitions , popular initiatives (in Germany citizens - / referendum , citizens - / popular initiative (D) ), referenda .

Work on electronic voting


In Europe (as of 2015), Estonia, France, Norway and Switzerland are working on systems for electronic voting. In the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe / Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE / ODIHR) and the Council of Europe , electronic voting via the Internet is a topic. In 2004 the Council of Europe adopted recommendations on legal, operational and technical standards for e-voting . In 2010, guidelines on transparency and certification of electronic voting systems were added. Every two years a review meeting of the interested member states takes place on the implementation of the recommendation. In 2014 there were fifteen Member States. The recommendation is to be revised in the course of the next budget period of the Council of Europe (2016–2017), in a group consisting of representatives of the state authorities and supported by people from science, business and civil society.


The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) came into force on April 1, 2012 . With the collection of one million signatures - equivalent to around 0.2 percent of the EU population - from at least seven member states within the EU, the European Commission can be asked to submit proposals for European legal acts or to change European legal provisions. The signatures can - in addition to the conventional "statement of support" in the conventional way with the signature on paper - also be collected electronically. A new legal framework has been created and an electronic system has been set up for collecting signatures electronically. The Commission provides software with open source codes for collecting online signatures. The online collection system must be certified in advance by a member state of your choice. Each Member State designates the competent authority for this.


  • ECI Online Collection System (OCS, also ECI Online Collection Software ) - the EU Commission, since 2012, in several steps of online signing
  • OpenECI - the ECI Campaign and Campact: Democracy in Action , since the end of 2015, with the first use at EBI Fair Transport Europe - with one step of signing, can be easily integrated into websites, supports social media and management of channels and partners, API for statistical evaluations, simple and reliable signature processing, error checking, also runs on smartphones and tablets, automatic recognition of language and country via IP address


Today it is no longer possible to take part in elections and votes electronically. Until the beginning of 2019, e-voting was offered in ten cantons. At its meeting on June 26, 2019, the Federal Council instructed the Federal Chancellery to work with the cantons to redesign the trial operation by the end of 2020.

Electronic voting goes back to the Vote électronique project launched by the Confederation and the cantons in 2000 . Starting in 2004, the first attempts at federal votes were carried out in the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel and Zurich . In 2007 the Federal Council and Parliament decided to gradually introduce electronic voting. Four stages of development were planned:

  1. Phase: e-voting / electronic voting / electronic voting - in the context of voting (current status 2015)
  2. Phase: e-voting / electronic Select / electronic voting - in the context of elections (current status 2015)
  3. Phase: e-collecting / electronic signature collection - electronic signature of initiatives and referendums
  4. Phase: Electronic nominations - electronic signature of nominations, electronic signature of candidate lists (e-collecting, e-signature )

In the 2011 National Council elections , electronic voting went into its second implementation phase .


So far, three different systems have been used as part of the Vote électronique project :

  • The platform developed by Unisys for the Consortium Vote électronique , founded in 2009 to which the cantons of Aargau, Freiburg, Glarus, Graubünden, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Thurgau and Zurich belonged. However, after the Federal Council decided not to allow the system for the federal parliamentary elections on October 18, 2015 , the system was no longer developed and the Consortium Vote électronique was dissolved in 2015.
  • The CHVote developed by the canton of Geneva , which is also used by the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Bern and Lucerne and is also to be used in the cantons of St. Gallen and Aargau from 2017. The system hit the headlines in 2013 after the Geneva-based security specialist Sebastien Andrivet demonstrated how malware can be infiltrated into the voters' computers via a vulnerability and how their voting can be manipulated. In 2015, a journalist from the French-speaking Swiss TV station RTS proved that it is possible to vote twice under certain circumstances. At the end of 2016, the Geneva cantonal government decided to publish the source code of CHVote under the GNU Affero General Public License . In November 2018, the canton of Geneva announced that it would discontinue the system by February 2020 for cost reasons.
  • The solution provided by Swiss Post on behalf of the canton of Neuchâtel, but delivered by the Spanish company Scytl, which was also used for the first time in the canton of Friborg in the federal referendum on November 27, 2016. Swiss Post has also announced that it will publish the source code of its solution; Various technical documents have been published to date that explain the process to specialists.

Latest development

On April 6, 2017, the Federal Council made the fundamental decision to introduce electronic voting for all Swiss voters. The resolution requires that the technical platform used must be open-source. After the adoption of a postulate by National Councilor Marcel Dobler on June 12, 2017, the Federal Council must also check whether the e-voting can be implemented completely paperless.

At the beginning of April 2018, the parliament of the canton of Uri refused to create the cantonal legal basis for e-voting that was actually expected by the federal government. There were also efforts in 2018 to prevent its introduction through a popular initiative. On December 19, the Federal Council opened the consultation process , which will last until the end of April 2019 .


In its fundamental decision on e-voting on April 6, 2017, the Federal Council spoke out against e-collecting when collecting signatures for referenda or initiatives. He affirmed this position on May 17, 2018 by recommending a motion by National Councilor Franz Grüter on this issue for rejection.


Counting ballot papers by technical means (i.e. counting machines and precision scales) as an alternative to hand counting has been permitted in federal referendums since 2003. Since 2016, cantons and municipalities have also been able to electronically evaluate ballot papers from federal referendums without obtaining approval from the federal government. According to the Federal Council, corresponding e-counting systems are already in use in the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Bern, Friborg, Geneva, St. Gallen and Vaud. On the other hand, e-counting is being called into question by the digital society , the Chaos Computer Club and left-wing politicians in general. One of the arguments used was irregularities that were found in a random sample in the city of Bern in 2014.

to form

Networked polling stations, electronic voting machines, e-voting with polling kiosks as well as internet elections are interesting for the implementation of state elections. Electronic face-to-face voting and Internet voting systems are interesting for holding elections in clubs, stock corporations or similar organizations.

Forms of electronic voting

Internet, WWW

  • Internet elections, I-Voting - In Internet or online elections - also I-Voting - the voter can vote from any PC that has an Internet connection. This can be done either with the help of any web browser, by means of e-mail clients or by means of special voting client software.
  • Web polls - These are simple polls on web pages that do not guarantee the correctness of the election result or compliance with anonymity. Web polls cannot therefore be considered for serious voting.
  • Mobile voting, SMS voting - when voting via SMS, the vote can be cast with a short message. In Estonia , votes for the 2011 parliamentary elections could also be cast via SMS. Everyone entitled to vote could vote with a personalized SIM card.

Devices, individually, networked

  • E-Counting - paper-based ballot papers are evaluated by text recognition systems and the results are accumulated.
  • Electronic presence voting - These are used on various occasions and for various topics in order to generate interaction processes with an audience. The people in the audience each receive a handheld device with buttons labeled with numbers or letters for voting. The voices of the participants are sent to a central computer by cable or radio (so-called mobited system) and processed there. Areas of application are e.g. B. Conferences, training courses, teaching evaluation, exams, votes or quizzes.
  • Electronic voting with voting kiosks - Voting takes place on electronic voting machines which are networked with one another. Manual addition of the results from the individual voting machines is therefore not necessary.
  • Electronic voting machines - These are voting machines that electronically record the will of the voters in polling stations. They are not networked with each other. The eligibility of voters is checked manually. The partial results of the individual electronic voting machines are determined at the end of the voting process and added up by hand. It has been used in elections in India for several years . Indian voting machines have also been used in Namibian elections since 2014 .
  • Networked polling stations - Several polling stations are networked with each other so that a single voter list is available for all polling stations. Thus every voter can vote in any polling station. The voting process itself does not take place electronically.

Forms of cryptographic e-voting

  • Bingo Voting - Electronic voting with subsequent printing of a paper receipt
  • Punchscan - paper-based voting with paper receipt for the voter as well as electronically supported counting of votes


Various experts point out the problems of e-voting or advise against electronic voting.

The American security expert Barbara Simons said: "In some countries Internet elections are being pushed by suppliers, voting authorities and well-intentioned people who do not understand the risks involved." And the Bern computer scientist Niklaus Ragaz , who quotes Barbara Simons in his NZZ article, said: "If you read some of the comments on the Geneva case (e.g. you wanted to avoid the media disparaging e-voting), you can only agree. Let us not endanger our democratic institutions with a false enthusiasm for technology. "

But other professionals are working on it - u. a. in good knowledge of the necessity of uniqueness, security, verifiability, voting secrecy ...

See also


  • Peter pupil. Kreuzchenmacher: Chances and Problems of Electronic Voting. c't 3/2017, pp. 176-178.

Web links




United Kingdom

Individual evidence

  1. bk.admin.ch: Topics: Political Rights: Vote électronique - Overview ( Memento from June 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (de / fr / it / rm / en) - Federal Chancellery , bk.admin.ch.
  2. Discussion Paper in Preparation of Guidelines for the Observation of Electronic Voting (en) - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, October 30, 2008.
  3. Handbook for the Observation of New Voting Technologies (en, ru), part of a collection Elections Handbooks / Elections Publications - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, October 1, 2013.
  4. Vote électronique: Newsletter & FAQ ( Memento of October 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (de / fr / it / rm / en) - “Info Vote électronique Winter 2014” - Federal Chancellery , bk.admin.ch.
  5. Vote électronique: International ( Memento of October 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (de / fr / it / rm / en) - Federal Chancellery , bk.admin.ch
  6. E-Voting World Map ( Memento from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (de, en) updated annually - e-voting.cc (Competence Center for Electronic Voting and Participation).
  7. Guide to the European Citizens' Initiative , 2nd edition, March 2012, European Economic and Social Committee , eesc.europa.eu.
  8. ECI Online Collection Software (OCS) , joinup.ec.europa.eu
  9. a b Overview and comparison on ECI software that works! OpenECI is designed by and for ECI campaigners , citizens-initiative.eu December 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Vote électronique on the website of the Federal Chancellery
  11. First attempts with electronic voting in the National Council elections 2011 successful ( memento of November 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) , press release Federal Chancellery , admin.ch October 24, 2011
  12. The electorate has the last word ( memento of March 17, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) , Barbara Perriard, Political Rights Section, Federal Chancellery , admin.ch September 14, 2012
  13. National Council elections with the electronic voting channel ( memento from November 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) , Federal Chancellery , admin.ch .
  14. webvote.ch
  15. Simon Hehli. Serious setback for voting with a click of the mouse. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 12, 2015
  16. Simon Hehli. The largest e-voting association is about to end . Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 17, 2015
  17. ↑ The e-voting system is a long way off , Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 21, 2015.
  18. ge.ch .
  19. Fabian Vogt. Geneva e-voting can be manipulated. Computerworld, July 23, 2013.
  20. Swiss journalist convicted of double e-voting . inside-it.ch, December 5, 2016.
  21. Joël Orizet: Geneva E-voting is transparent , Netzwoche, December 15, 2016th
  22. Geneva draws a line under the e-voting system , Tages-Anzeiger November 28, 2018
  23. scytl.com
  24. Andrea Kucera. Battle between Geneva and the post office. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, November 11, 2016.
  25. Urs Geiser. Geneva launches charm offensive for e-voting. Swissinfo, September 16, 2016.
  26. Vote électronique: New system in use ( Memento from December 31, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  27. Swiss Post's e-voting solution: electronic voting and voting for Switzerland (documentation on the Swiss Post website).
  28. a b Christoph Grau. Federal Council wants e-voting for all of Switzerland. Netzwoche, April 6, 2017.
  29. David Klier. Federal Council examines completely paperless e-voting. Netzwoche, June 13, 2017.
  30. Democracy cannot stand the slightest distrust , NZZ, April 6, 2018
  31. Opponents want to ban e-voting with a popular initiative , NZZ, February 26, 2018.
  32. Erich Aschwanden: Over 400 hackers want to crack the Swiss e-voting system. In: nzz.ch . December 19, 2018, accessed December 19, 2018 .
  33. ^ Federal Council does not want e-collecting for the time being. NZZ, May 17, 2018
  34. Circular letter from the Federal Council to the cantonal governments to determine the results with technical devices in federal referendums of January 15, 2003 , BBl 2003 419 (PDF).
  35. Determination of voting results: Federal Council circular on the use of technical means (Federal Council media release of May 18, 2016).
  36. Jan Jirát: Nobody knows what the computer does with your voice. In: WOZ The weekly newspaper. 17th April 2014.
  37. Samuel Thomi. Scanner interprets ballot papers incorrectly. Der Bund, May 23, 2014
  38. Markus Kühni: Vote from May 18, 2014: Observation of the electronic counting of the city of Bern. (PDF).
  39. Geneva e-voting can be manipulated - a Swiss hacker succeeded in manipulating the electronic voting system of the canton of Geneva. This is also used in Basel-Stadt, Lucerne and Bern , Fabian Vogt, computerworld.ch July 23, 2013.
  40. a b E-Voting: Geneva wants to fix a security gap in the voting system - The introduction of e-voting poses technical challenges for the cantons. At the weekend, a security gap in the electronic voting system of the Canton of Geneva made headlines. The canton sees no major problem, but it still wants to close the gap , blick.ch July 22, 2013.
  41. Niklaus Ragaz: Guest Commentary on E-Voting: Endangering Democratic Institutions - The possibilities of manipulating Internet elections and votes (e- voting ) are very diverse. It is also not possible to reliably recount any manipulated result afterwards. E-voting therefore also harbors dangers for democracy , NZZ August 15, 2013.
  42. Geneva with next-generation e-voting - In the canton of Geneva, a second-generation e-voting system was used for the first time in Switzerland on Sunday. Voters can now check whether their votes have been correctly received by the authorities. Valais is also interested , sda /1815.ch April 20, 2015.