eVoting: Electronic urn modified by "a simple procedure"

By EDRi · March 14, 2012

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [eVoting: Elektronische Wahlurne lässt sich leicht manipulieren | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.5_eVoting_Elektronische_Wahlurne_laesst_sich_einfach_abaendern]

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)