Challenging an E-voting System in Court

An Experience Report
  • Richard HillEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9269)


The Swiss political system is decentralized, and this includes voting operations. Several cantons have implemented Internet-based e-voting systems. The system used until recently in Geneva was a simple Internet voting system which assumed that the voter’s personal computer had not been compromised. This was considered risky already at the time and various counter-measures were considered. The one that was implemented in practice was to limit the proportion of voters that could vote via Internet. At present, there is consensus amongst experts that such systems are unsafe and should be improved, in particular by implementing verification. In order to stimulate improvements in the system, the author challenged the use of the Geneva system in court, arguing that it was not compliant with constitutional principles and cantonal law on voting rights. At the end of a long and complex legal process, the Swiss Federal Tribunal (supreme court) ruled that the complaints could not be heard on their merits, because they did not allege that weaknesses had actually been exploited in a specific vote. This decision differs from those taken in other jurisdictions and highlights the difficulties of bringing scientific arguments into the court system.


E-voting Internet voting Court challenges to e-voting 


  1. 1.
    Maurer, A.D.: Internet Voting and Federalism: The Swiss Case. Revista General de Derecho Público Comparado, No. 13, 2013. In: Barrat, J. (ed.) El voto electronico y sus dimensiones juridicas: entre la ingenua complacencia y el rechazo precipitado, Iustel, Madrid, Spain (2015)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Swiss Federal Chancellery: Vote électronique.
  3. 3.
    Commission externe d’évaluation des politiques publiques: Voter par Internet: évaluation des effets du vote électronique à Genève, Geneva, Switzerland (2013).
  4. 4.
    Chevalier, M.: Internet Voting: Status, Perspectives, and Issues, Chancellery of the canton of Geneva, ITU-T Workshop on e-Government (2003).
  5. 5.
    Oppliger, R.: Traitement du problème de la sécurité des plate-formes pour le vote par Internet à Genève, Chancellerie du canton de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland (2002).
  6. 6.
    Chevalier, M.: La solution genevoise de vote électronique à cœur ouvert, Direcktdemokratie, Flash Informatique No. 6 (2011).
  7. 7.
    Dubuis, E., Haenni, R., Koenig, R.: Konzept und implicationen eines verifizierbaren Vote Eletronique Systems. Berner Fachhochschule, Bern, Switzerland (2012).
  8. 8.
    Dubuis, E., Fischli, S., Haenni, R., Serdült, U., Spycher, O.: A verifiable internet voting system. In: CeDEM 2011, Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government, Krems, Austria, pp. 301–312 (2011)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Barrat, J., Chevallier, M., Goldsmith, B., Jandura, D., Turner, J., Sharma, R.: Internet voting and individual verifiability: the Norwegian return codes. In: EVOTE2012, Bregenz, Austria, pp. 35–45 (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Swiss Federal Council: Rapport sur le vote électronique (2013).
  11. 11.
    Andrivet, S.: Attacking E-Voting: A Concrete Case, in Nuit du Hack 2013, Advtools (2013).
  12. 12.
    Jones, Douglas W., Simons, Barbara: Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (2012)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Maurer, A.D., Barrat, J. (eds.): E-Voting Case Law: A Comparative Analysis. Ashgate, Farnham (2015)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Auer, A., Malinverni, G., Hottelier, M.: Droit constitutionnel suisse. Staempfli, Bern (2006)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Christin, T., Trechsel, A.S.: Analyse du scrutin du 26 septembre 2004 dans quatre communes genevoises. E-Democracy Center, University of Geneva, Geneva, Swittzerland (2005).
  16. 16.
    Chambre administrative, Cour de Justice de Genève: ATA/533/2012, 21 August 2012.
  17. 17.
    Chambre administrative, Cour de Justice de Genève, ATA/414/2011, 28 June 2011.
  18. 18.
  19. 19.
  20. 20.
  21. 21.
  22. 22.
    Chambre administrative, Cour de Justice de Genève, ATA 118/2014, 25 February 2014.
  23. 23.
  24. 24.
    Wikipedia: Catch-22 (logic).
  25. 25.
    Swiss Federal Chancellery: Des nouvelles dispositions régissent le vote électronique.
  26. 26.
    Seedorf, S.: Germany: the public nature of elections and its consequences on e-voting. In: [13]Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Madise, U., Vinkel, P.: A judicial approach to internet voting in Estonia. In: [13]Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Driza Mauer, A., Barrat, J.: Conclusions. In: [13]Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kuoni, B.: Case Law on e-voting – a swiss perspective. In: [13]Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Swiss Parliament: Zulassung einer rechtlichen Prüfung der Modalitäten der elektronischen Stimmabgabe, Curia Vista 15.412.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hill & AssociatesGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations