eVoting: Electronic urn modified by "a simple procedure"
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Deutsch: eVoting: Elektronische Wahlurne lässt sich leicht manipulieren
On 11 March 2012, the Federal Chancellery of Switzerland reported that the eVoting trials that had taken place for the weekend's national ballot (in the Swiss semi-direct democratic system, such ballots and votes are held four to six times every year) had been "successful" and that they had "fulfilled the requirements".
Quite appropriately however, the official press release reports not only about what had appeared to work well, but also mentions what went wrong: One citizen unintentionally cast his vote twice when the process of electronic voting took an extraordinarily long time for him. The eVoting server accepted the vote twice, but an automated monitoring system raised an alarm because the number of people who had been recorded as having voted was no longer identical to the number of votes in the electronic urn. The official press release reports that the problem was corrected "professionally". A more detailed report about what happened and about the steps that were taken to address it has also been made available. From the official perspective, the problem is considered to be unlikely and of low impact, and therefore it is not seen as reason for concern.
IT-savvy activists, on the other hand, are alarmed. In particular the fact that officials were able to modify the contents of the electronic urn by what is officially described as "a simple procedure" raises significant concerns about the integrity of electronic voting and about what other security problems may exist, in particular in regard to possibilities of unauthorized modification of the software on the eVoting server, or of the contents of the electronic urn. The Swiss Pirate Party as well as a number of NGOs including Human Dignity Initiative and the Free Software and Linux user group GULL are calling for an immediate halt of the eVoting trials, and for publication of the source code of the eVoting system software, so that it can be analyzed under reasonable conditions.
Official press release: Success of e-voting trials in 12 cantons (in German,
French and Italian, 11.03.2012)
More detailed official information (only in French, 11.03.2012)
Technical description of the eVoting system (only in French, 06.2011)
Open letter of protest (in German and French, 14.03.2012)
(Contribution by Norbert Bollow - EDRi observer - Switzerland)