Switzerland: The electronic voting system still has progress to make

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The first reports of the independent audit show that “the electronic voting system that Swiss Post is developing has been considerably improved”, announces the Federal Chancellery.

“Some improvements, sometimes significant, must be made to the system.”

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Between July 2021 and February 2022, an independent check of the beta version of La Poste’s electronic voting system was carried out by experts. “The first results are now available in the form of audit reports and show that the electronic voting system of La Poste has been considerably improved since 2019”, announces this Wednesday the Federal Chancellery in A press release. The main improvements concern the following points:

  • “Clearer, more complete and better structured” documentation;

  • a “largely well rated” source code;

  • system development processes “deemed good”.

Added to this is the fact that “the intrusion test showed that none of the attacks carried out in this context were successful”, continues the Federal Chancellery, which specifies however that “certain improvements, sometimes significant, must be made to the system”.

Entrusted to experts from science and industry, the control of La Poste’s electronic voting system covered four areas: the cryptographic protocol of the system, the software used, the infrastructure and the operation on the La Poste side. Post, as well as carrying out a penetration test, explains the Federal Chancellery. Various experts worked on each of the areas. “The control of the infrastructure and the exploitation on the side of the cantons is not yet completed”, specifies the press release.

The shortcomings noted “concern in particular the cryptographic protocol which must guarantee verifiability while preserving the secrecy of the vote. In particular, certain decisive security aspects are not yet sufficiently documented, so that the question of how the system is supposed to work in this respect remains open, ”says the Federal Chancellery.

Warned, La Poste has already announced having “developed an action plan to address the reported findings”. It thus undertakes to remedy these shortcomings before the provision and use of the system. Once the planned improvements have been made, the electronic voting system will be subject to a new independent check.

Sometime in 2023

The legal bases governing the use of the electronic voting system – the Ordinance on Political Rights (ODP) and the Ordinance of the Federal Chancellery on Electronic Voting (OVotE) – will then be finalized in mid-2022.

Once the new legal bases and the final audit reports have been published, “the cantons will be able to ask the Federal Council for the general authorization required to use La Poste’s new electronic voting system in the context of a federal vote”, concludes the Federal Chancellery. According to La Poste, this will be possible “during the year 2023”.

(comm/aze)

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Switzerland: The electronic voting system still has progress to make


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