From Initial Idea to Piecemeal Implementation: Switzerland's First Decade of Internet Voting Reviewed

From Initial Idea to Piecemeal Implementation: Switzerland's First Decade of Internet Voting Reviewed

Fernando Mendez (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and Uwe Serdült (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5820-2.ch006

Abstract

The formal genesis of e-voting in Switzerland can be traced back to a series of motions deposited by parliamentarians in 2000. At the time the Swiss were not alone in trying to roll out e-voting programmes in the early 2000s. Indeed, a large number of European countries were pursuing similar e-voting policy agendas. A decade later very few countries can be said to have implemented e-voting. One of these, Estonia, has fully generalised e-voting as a mode of participation for a range of electoral contests. While much has been written about the Estonian case, less is known about the Helvetic route to implementing e-voting. In this chapter, the authors analyse the piecemeal approach to implementing e-voting in the Swiss case. The fact that the Helvetic route to implementing e-voting involved three competing systems offers a comparative anchor for examining the sustainability of each system. It is in this sense that Switzerland offers a useful political laboratory for analysing the problems of modernising elections in the digital era and provides insights that may be generalisable to other cases.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

The formal genesis of e-voting in Switzerland can be traced back to a series of motions deposited by parliamentarians in 2000. At the time the Swiss were not alone in trying to roll out e-voting programmes in the early 2000s. Indeed, a large number of European countries were pursuing similar e-voting policy agendas. A decade later only two European countries can be said to have implemented e-voting. One of these, Estonia, has fully generalised e-voting as a mode of participation for a range of electoral contests. While much has been written about the Estonian case, less is known about the Helvetic route to implementing Internet voting. In this chapter we analyse the piecemeal approach to implementing Internet voting in the Swiss case. The fact that the Helvetic route to implementing e-voting involved three competing systems offers a comparative anchor for examining the sustainability of each system. It is in this sense that Switzerland offers a useful political laboratory for analysing the problems of modernising elections in the digital era and provides insights that may be generalisable to other cases.

This chapter is divided into three parts: The first provides the comparative setting in which the Swiss Internet voting agenda was launched in the 2000s. In the next section we focus on the process of introducing e-voting and some of the problems that have been encountered by public officials in a polity where elections are very decentralised affairs. The third part is more quantitative and focuses on the political behaviour aspects of introducing new voting channels - especially on rates of participation. Based on the evidence provided, the discussion in the concluding section focuses on the sustainability of e-voting in the Swiss context and identifies some potentially generalisable insights from the Swiss case as other countries implement programmes of electoral modernisation.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset