About the author
This website is edited by Ardita Driza Maurer.
Ardita has +15 years experience in the electoral and e-voting fields. A jurist, she specializes in legal implications of the use of digital solutions throughout the electoral cycle as well as in issues of citizen participation. Ardita joined the University of Zurich/Zentrum for Demokratie Aarau in Feb. 2017 as a researcher. She works on a PhD Thesis on the constitutional principle of freedom to vote and its application to e-voting.
As an independent consultant, Ardita works with international organisations, namely the Council of Europe, Venice Commission, OSCE, UNDP, etc. in the electoral field. Ardita is lead-expert for the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) of the Council of Europe, which prepared (2020-2021) the Committee of Ministers Guidelines on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in electoral processes in Council of Europe member States, approved on 9 February 2022. Ardita lead (2015-2016) the group of experts and the updating work which produced the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on standards for e-voting, approved by the Committee of Ministers in June 2017. She contributed to the work of the Group of experts on e-voting (EXVE) called by the Swiss federal Chancellery in 2017-2018 to study the future development of e-voting in Switzerland and issue recommendations to the attention of the Federal Council. Ardita is also active in projects related to strengthening citizen participation in canton Geneva.
Ardita was previously a member and director of the federal Internet voting project at the Swiss Federal Chancellery (Bern), a jurist at the federal Office of Justice (Bern) and a project officer and consultant at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (Geneva).
Contact: Email info[at]electoralpractice[dot]ch, LinkedIn profile.
About this website
From e-voting to e-electing, e-collecting and e-petitioning, electoral and electronics are increasingly being conjugated together. To be clear, the use of information technology (IT) in the electoral processes is not a new phenomena – think for example of the electronic counting of hand-filled ballot papers. However, the acknowledgment that it needs to be specifically regulated is a much more recent “trend”. It developed alongside increasing awareness of problems with voting machines and to skepticism towards introduction of internet voting for political elections at the beginning of 2000. This blog discusses the use of IT in political votes and elections mainly in Switzerland and Europe from a legal point of view.
Political rights (right to vote, elect, sign initiatives and referendums) are a passionate subject and the trend towards going digital a challenging one. Switzerland is an interesting laboratory: its 26 cantons (States) implement a broad spectrum of direct and representative democracy instruments. In addition, the cantons, and sometime the communes, have implemented a multitude of technical solutions which differ from canton to canton. There is also a tradition of continuously adapting voting procedures to changing social needs: Switzerland if for example one of the only countries in the world to have completely liberalized postal voting (advanced, distant voting via the postal channel). Going digital is the latest trend.
A few other countries in Europe use internet voting for political elections. The use of voting machines is more widespread. The de-certification of voting machines and return to pencil-and-paper voting (2007/8) in the Netherlands and the decision of the Constitutional Court of Germany (2009) which declared voting machines unconstitutional as long as the system does not offer the possibility to the average voter to check the integrity of the results have influenced recent e-voting developments in Europe. At the same time the need to facilitate voting procedures, to speed up delivery and return of voting material as well as to shorten delays and reduce costs is very present. Politically speaking, offering an appropriate voting channel to expatriates has become a priority.
In this context, reflection on e-voting regulation becomes increasingly important not only at the legislator’s level but also at the implementation, operational and control levels. Existing instruments such as national regulations, international recommendations, conventions, agreements, operational requirements etc. need to be (and are being) revisited and upgraded in the light of last decade’s experiences.
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