Delegates of the Swiss Abroad elected for the first time via the Internet

OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2017 – GENEVA: Yesterday, in the presence of the directors of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the canton of Geneva, as well as National Councillor (SP/GE) and member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), Carlo Sommaruga, the electronic urn containing 1,378 ballots from Swiss citizens living in Mexico and Australia was opened. 7.43% of the eligible voters in Australia and 6.96% of those in Mexico participated in this premiere. For the first time, they were able to elect their delegates to the CSA online, using the CHVote electronic voting system made available by the canton of Geneva.

The OSA had teamed up with the canton of Geneva to enable the Swiss Abroad living in Mexico and Australia to elect their delegates between 12 and 27 June using the Internet. Two CSA seats were to be filled in Mexico and four in Australia. Thanks to the Internet, all Swiss citizens living in these two countries, over the age of 18 and who had notified the embassy or consulate of their e-mail address, were able to choose their delegates from among eight candidates standing for election in Australia and four in Mexico.


In the past, registered Swiss associations or umbrella organisations were responsible for the electoral process. Now for the first time, by taking part in this successful pilot project, all eligible Swiss citizens living in these two countries could participate directly in the election. Democratic processes must be accessible to all Swiss Abroad and this was made possible by the electronic voting system developed and made available by the canton of Geneva. The CHVote system was fully adapted to OSA requirements to allow Swiss citizens in Mexico and Australia to be the first to elect their CSA delegates online.


CHVote is a pioneering electronic voting system, with the world’s first ever online vote having been cast in the canton of Geneva on 19 January 2003. Since then, the voting platform developed by the canton of Geneva, has been used regularly for public elections by Genevan voters at home and abroad, as well as Swiss Abroad voters from Basel City, Lucerne and Bern and, from September this year, voters from Aargau and St. Gallen will join the list. CHVote is the leading e-voting platform in Switzerland, not only in terms of the number of cantons using it but the number of times it has seen action. Since its launch, it has been used successfully in 119 referenda and elections.


Message by the elected CSA delegates representing Australia


This election has been a great opportunity for Swiss in Australia to democratically choose their delegates and for us to gain legitimacy as the representatives of the Swiss community in Australia. Those that have participated in this pilot project have been at the forefront of reforming the election process of the Council of the Swiss Abroad. We are grateful to them and the OSA and the canton of Geneva, to make this possible. We are also grateful to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in particular the Consulate General in Sydney, for its assistance and support. We thank all candidates that put their hand up to stand for election, and lastly – we thank YOU for putting your trust and confidence in us! We look forward to serving this community for the next four years.


The results of the election can be seen here.


Roland Isler, Carmen Trochsler, Beat Knoblauch, Katja Wallimann Gates