Striking a balance between prohibition and liberalization of internet voting


Balance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nothing summarizes better the contradictory feelings towards introducing internet voting than developments in Canton Vaud. A few years ago a motion signed by cantonal MPs from almost all political parties asked for prohibition of internet voting in the canton. Later the motion was transformed into a postulate which is less binding (for a summary see last month’s report of the ad hoc parliamentary commission on some modifications in the cantonal law on political rights).This allowed the cantonal government to propose a modification of the cantonal law on political rights which foresees on one side that internet voting is prohibited in canton Vaud and on the other contains a provision which exceptionally authorizes internet voting trials for Swiss abroad alone. To be noted, canton Vaud has one of the biggest communities of Swiss abroad and their difficulty to take part in votes and elections because of postal delays is certainly an issue to which politicians are regularly confronted.

The cantonal parliament will decide on the proposal from the Government in 2013. It would be interesting to observe how the tandem “prohibition-exceptional authorization” will be received. There already exist voices who say that it’s unconstitutional to privilege certain voters. Still it is most likely that internet voting will be allowed for a limited period of time after which the experience will have to be evaluated and a new decision on internet voting will intervene. The limited essays would allow Swiss abroad from canton Vaud to be able to participate electronically at the 2015 federal elections.

Canton Vaud is in very good company when it comes to hesitations towards introduction of electronic voting in general. The smaller chamber of Parliament (the Chamber of cantons) votes by raising hands (assembly voting). A recent demand asking for the introduction electronic voting (i.e. pressing a yes or no button, as is the case in the bigger Chamber of Parliament) was refused at the end of November. A few days later Politnetz – an internet platform – which was authorized to film the votes from the gallery, showed that the counting results were wrong in two occasions. MPs decided to reconsider the demand on the introduction of electronic voting – it will be submitted to a new vote soon. Some of the MPs who voted against it in November appear to have changed their mind. Others continue to oppose it. Luc Recordon, one of the two representatives from canton Vaud, appealed to his colleagues to continue boycotting the introduction of electronic voting in the smaller Chamber of Parliament.


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