Today's announcement surprised both opponents and supporters of e-voting at the same time. The pioneer of electronic voting in Switzerland threw a towel. For 15 years, Geneva has formed the Swiss e-voting debate – an eternity for the fast-paced world of IT.
Too expensive are the necessary updates. According to reports by RTS, the government expects two million francs. This must be a conservative estimate. And with critical IT systems like e-voting, there are operational costs that are also fast in millions.
Can we buy e-voting?
With its withdrawal, Geneva longs for the Swiss deteriorating e-voting. Geneva has become the second provider to surrender. In 2015, the so-called Consortium Vote Électronique gave up because "significant costs" for the necessary security updates were still pending. "Unreasonable" fees.
Is the idea of e-voting surviving from such setbacks being questioned. Especially because cantons, who also use the Geneva system, now have to decide whether they switch to another system because of expensive money.
What makes today's decision hurtful: It seems that it exceeds the financial capacity of a publicly funded provider to operate the e-voting itself. In other words, the level of security needed is too expensive for the people of Geneva. How expensive is a relatively safe IT system, know Swiss banks and insurance companies. They spend billions (and unfortunately still hacked).
The future of democracy?
Today's decision marks a turning point for Swiss e-voting efforts. With Geneva, the last state provider of e-voting disappeared. In the race it remains only an active post of entrepreneurship, which relies on the Spanish company Scytl system. Even e-voting supporters prefer electronic voting as a sovereign task in the hands of the state.
When Geneva Chancellor Anja Wyden Guelpa proudly presented the "self" e-voting system in an SRF article a year ago, he talked about the future of democracy. With Geneva's withdrawal, this future has now moved into a distant future.
Editor Rundschau, SRF
The Rundschau Editor has reported to SRF from Bern since 2015. He is a trained computer scientist specializing in application development.