Three case studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication

1 Apr 2009

The phenomenon of electronic government (e-government), and electronic democracy (e-democracy) more specifically, is a relatively new subject of study. However, with the globalization of Internet use, the deployment of technology to improve democracy has rapidly gained worldwide attention.

While scholarly analysis of recent and potential developments in this area covers a diverse range of subjects, this project organises the case studies presented around three specific examples within the Swiss context that, in turn, map roughly onto three distinct stages of the democratic process. These are:

  • The pre-voting stage in the first case study of the automated Swiss candidate-voter matching system, Smartvote;
  • The voting stage itself in our second study on the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting) in Switzerland;
  • The post-voting phase in our third study on the use of blogs by elected candidates in the Swiss government.

Building upon anecdotal, but substantive evidence, the authors assess the actual and potential implications of these uses of the Internet on democratic processes. Although all three studies are examples of preliminary and recent projects, enough evidence was observed to state that, altogether, developing the tools discussed would hold promising opportunities for the citizenry and democracy more broadly in Switzerland. In all three of these case studies the authors discern contributions to central principles of the democratic process, namely voter participation and citizen awareness.

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