Über die Demokratie in der Schweiz

An dieser Stelle sei nur kurz auf den Bericht der OSZE-Wahlbeobachter [PDF] über die Eidgenössischen Wahlen 2011 hingewiesen, der heute veröffentlicht wurde. Das Fazit der Experten ist überwiegend positiv und entspricht damit den allgemeinen Erwartungen. Wer einmal einen Einblick in die Schweizer Politik aus internationaler Perspektive erhalten möchte, dem sei die Lektüre des Berichts trotzdem wärmstens empfohlen. Die Beobachter gehen gewissenhaft auf sämtliche Aspekte des Wahlprozesses ein, inklusive des Gewirrs kantonaler Regeln.

In der Schweiz werden Berichte wie dieser gerne als überflüssig belächelt, wenn nicht gar als inakzeptabler Eingriff in die nationalstaatliche Souveränität gebrandmarkt. Dabei ist der OSZE-Bericht durchaus auch für Schweizer aufschlussreich. Ein Vorteil der Wahlbeobachtung durch die OSZE ist, dass sie für alle Länder die gleichen Kriterien und Standards überprüft. Das führt dazu, dass der Bericht teilweise ausführlich auf Aspekte eingeht, die in anderen Ländern von essenzieller Bedeutung sind, hierzulande aber kaum Relevanz haben, beispielsweise die Prozeduren zur Anfechtung von Wahlresultaten oder die Zulassung einheimischer Wahlbeobachter. Andererseits behandelt er Themen, die sehr wohl relevant sind, in der Schweizer Öffentlichkeit aber kaum Aufmerksamkeit erhalten. So geht der Bericht beispielsweise sehr ausführlich auf die Wahl via Internet («E-Voting») ein – und findet eine ganze Reihe von Mängeln: Von insgesamt 23 Empfehlungen betreffen nicht weniger als 15 das elektronische Wahlverfahren. (Eine andere macht einmal mehr auf die Intransparenz der Politikfinanzierung aufmerksam.)

Der Übersicht halber hier noch die vollständige Liste der Empfehlungen:

  • While the Swiss political system is based upon the principles of federalism and subsidiarity, it is unusual for a country to have different eligibility requirements and conditions for citizens to be elected to the same body of the national parliament (Council of States). The federal and cantonal authorities could reflect on the extent to which these differences may affect the principle of equality of political rights of all citizens and the extent to which they comply with international standards
  • In order to comply with international good practice, to increase electoral transparency and to better inform voters, the authorities should consider introducing an obligation for public disclosure of candidate and party campaign receipts, sources, and expenditures. Authorities should also consider whether such requirements should extend to interest groups making political donations or expenditures, and to referenda and popular initiatives as well as elections.
  • Compiling gender disaggregated statistics on voting patterns would clarify the extent of women’s participation and help to assess whether any steps are needed to increase it.
  • In order to comply fully with paragraph 8 of the 1990 Copenhagen Document, the OSCE/ODIHR reiterates its recommendation that the electoral legislation should be amended to allow explicitly for international and domestic non-partisan observers. This should include specific provisions to ensure effective observation of internet voting.
  • Consideration should be given to introducing a longer lead time for the delivery of ballot packs for Swiss citizens living abroad. This should, however, be considered in conjunction with other election deadlines, including those for candidate registration.
  • Consideration should be given to reviewing the adequacy of existing safeguards against potential abuse of postal voting. A variety of means could be considered for this, for example, checking signatures on envelopes against control signatures; undertaking a random check with voters that they received their ballots and voted themselves; or requiring use of registered post with an identification check. Another measure could be to include on postal ballots warnings similar to those included for internet voting, reminding voters of legal penalties for impersonation or other violations.
  • Each canton has examples of good electoral practices and safeguards that, if shared, could contribute to more secure elections and avoid the types of weaknesses described above. These include basic steps such as providing privacy screens in each polling station, ensuring that polling places are accessible for voters with disabilities, and using numbered, tamper-evident seals on ballot boxes. Consideration could be given to arranging a systematic discussion of procedures among cantons, with a view to consistent adoption of good practices.
  • Regulations for internet voting should be further detailed in the law. This could include clarifying provisions regarding the procedural steps for internet voting, standards for cryptographic methods, testing requirements, operational duties and responsibilities, certification requirements, and aspects of law governing hosting by other cantons or outsourcing to private companies.
  • In order to ensure data protection standards are adhered to, it is recommended that a formal procedure be developed on how to dispose of electronically stored personal data.
  • The practice of printing polling cards should be reviewed to ensure security of sensitive data and protect against possible use of voter credentials by unauthorized individuals.
  • Consideration could be given to providing voters with the possibility of verifying that their vote has been cast and recorded as intended, as well as with means to protect voters against possible coercion and other forms of manipulation. This could include options to allow voters to cancel their previous vote by casting another vote via the internet or in person.
  • The highest level of security available should be used for encryption and transmission of electronic votes to ensure the integrity of the process and the secrecy of the vote. The authorities should conduct a review of state-of-the-art cryptographic methods for internet voting with a view to addressing any potential security weaknesses in the systems.
  • A greater measure of security would be achieved if electronic ballot boxes were not decrypted until the start of the vote count.
  • Most cantons already use a tamper-evident overlay to shield the password assigned to each voter. Adoption of this approach by all cantons would enhance security, as well as the secrecy of the vote.
  • As a good practice, all cantonal authorities should consider directly employing a core of technical staff to ensure adequate supervision and control of their internet voting system, and to avoid excessive reliance on external operators.
  • It is recommended that all cantons adhere to good practice when handling cryptographic material, which provide that the private key be generated at a public meeting and that the key be divided in separate parts and shared by at least two people who are unlikely to collude. Preferably, this key should be generated and stored using secure cryptographic media (such as a smartcard). Essential procedures, such as the decryption of internet votes, could also take place at public meetings.
  • Mandatory end-to-end tests of all internet voting systems should be held before each election to ensure compliance with legislation, guarantee system security and accuracy, and to protect the secrecy of the vote. A detailed list of criteria should be developed as the basis for testing. The results of these tests should be made public.
  • In order to meet legal requirements and to ensure the integrity of internet voting systems, an independent body should be established to certify all systems, including through independent, third-party testing. Clear, written, and testable standards on certification should be developed and regularly reviewed and updated as the basis for the independent body’s work, covering such issues as security, transparency, reliability, ease of use, and protection of the secrecy of the vote.
  • In line with international good practice, it is recommended that evaluations of internet voting be carried out by an independent body and that the reports are made public.
  • To maintain the high public confidence in internet voting, further efforts should be made to exchange good practice amongst cantons, explain technical and operational elements, and ensure appropriate safeguards for transparency and accountability. The Federal Chancellery, possibly through the internet voting task force, could take a leading role in communicating information to political parties, civil society, and the general public.
  • As is the case with voting in polling stations, cantons might benefit from a systematic comparison of vote counting practices, with a view to consistent adoption of good practices.
  • Consideration could be given to requiring that all electronic systems related to elections meet specified, testable standards and be certified. A good practice would be for an independent body to undertake end-to-end testing of all computerized voting and counting system components such as data entry applications for vote recording, counting or tabulation.
  • In order to guarantee effective remedy, authorities should consider instituting short, mandatory deadlines for adjudication of election-related complaints concerning the broadcast media.
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