Diplo malta 2010


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Diplo malta 2010

  1. 1. Internet Voting (iVoting) and citizens living abroad: some inputs from Geneva Michel Chevallier Geneva State Chancellery Chancellerie d'Etat Our project illustrates the application of the "e" approach in the realm of the political rights. Yet, as voting machines have been widely criticized – at least in Europe and North America, we have decide to use the letter "I" instead of "e" to mark our difference. 1
  2. 2. The two poles of the debate The debate around the expatriates' political rights is quite new in Europe So far, we mostly debated around foreigners' right in their place of residence (i.e. EU countries grant any EU citizen a municipal voting  right on his/her place of residence) The strong EU‐intern emigration is leading to a rethinking of the issue The two poles of this debate are the residence‐based  approach to political rights vs. the nationality‐based one Chancellerie d'Etat The debate around access of expatriates to political rights is quite new in Europe. For years, it has mostly been debated whether to allow foreigners to vote in their country of residence or not. This is changing, as notably the European Union enlargement has provoked large emigration from Eastern European countries (find en hotel receptionist in London who is not Polish….). This signals an evolution of the perception, away from the territory-based (residence-based) concept of citizenship called territorial democracy (I vote where I live) towards a nationality-based vision. In the residence-based vision, citizenship is not only a legal status, it is a social reality based on the individuals' participation in the life of the community. This form of citizenship is linked to the "territorial democracy" approach, a name that designates a form of democracy where all laws must be adopted by those who have to comply with them, whatever their citizenship. This is akin to the "no taxation without representation" that the Tea party rioters in Boston shouted back in 1773. In this perspective, limiting citizenship to the mere citizens of a country does not correspond to any public interest and can be considered as an inequality of treatment versus the well integrated foreigners. The nationality-based vision of citizenship states that each country freely decides the rights and obligations it intends to give to the foreigners who live on its soil, within the boundaries of international right. While the latter impose a corpus of rights that states have to grant to the foreigners residing on their territory, it is also internationally recognized that political rights are reserved to the nationals, as well as for example diplomatic protection, as confirmed by article 25 of the UN pact on civil and political rights states. To take part in the formation of a country's political will, one has to belong to its people and share its destiny. Therefore, a specific link with that country through the possession of its citizenship is a condition for this participation. Citizenship is also the outcome of an integration process. It certifies that the individual's integration has been successful and that this person adheres to the community of values and destiny. From this point of view, breaking the relationship between nationality and citizenship would dilute nationality and would open a Pandora's box, creating legal insecurity. On the background is the observation that expatriation is getting more common and more reversible, as more students and qualified workers spend some years abroad. There is here a new reality emerging. 2
  3. 3. The turnout issue In the case of remote voting,  turnout is the second dimension  of the issue Turnout is low in many modern democracies Postal vote (introduced 1995 in Geneva) increased turnout by 20 percentage points Today, 95% of all votes are cast remotely Yet, 40%‐45% of citizens still do not vote Can we reach for them through a new delivery channel? To see it for ourselves, we began iVoting in 2003 We run 3 channels: postal vote, iVote and polling station Chancellerie d'Etat In the Geneva case, the rationale for internet voting is turnout increase. Expressed the other way round, it is the search for a better service to the citizens in the field of political rights. It is often considered, at least in in the West, that voting or exercising one's political rights is not a service given by the State and that therefore the form voting takes is not an issue. It needs neither modernizing nor improving. We think it is a mistake: organising a ballot is a service that the State delivers to the community and there is no reason it should not be treaded as such and delivered in the most efficient manner. There is another reason why internet voting is an important issue in the relationship between the public and the administration or the authorities: it helps fighting disenfranchisement. Disabled people, blind people would of course take advantage of it; but we have noticed with the introduction of postal voting that the delivery channel can affect the amount of users. Postal voting is a very good example of this effect. Here, we are in the heart of the citizen engagement issue, which is central to this expert meeting. 3
  4. 4. Two publics There are two publics for iVoting: The Swiss living abroad and the Swiss residents 35% to 50% of all votes cast from abroad are electronic iVoting makes a qualitative difference in offering Swiss  expatriates an effective way to cast their ballot iVoting makes a qualitative difference for expatriates 15% to 20% of all votes casts locally are electronic iVoting makes a paradigmatic difference for Swiss residents Their reason for using it is a lifestyle issue Abstainers' lifestyle makes them more likely to use iVoting Chancellerie d'Etat The percentage of online ballots for expatriates is for instance higher in Basel, where there are no commuters living over the border, than in Geneva, where there are. The condition of expatriate is set to become a temporary rule in many a life. In our globalised world indeed, expatriation is more and more part of study curricula, professional careers and sentimental lives. Actually, in the surveys we conducted in the framework of the first 2 online ballots for expatriates, 54% of the respondents said that they were permanent residents abroad and 40% that they were commuters working in Geneva and living in France. The rest are mostly students completing a term abroad. We are already weaving a web of relations spanning over several countries if not several continents. Our communities are no longer geographical; our identity does not anymore depend from the place where we live. In the process, we do not lose our original self; on the contrary. One deepens his outlook on his culture and country of origin by being confronted to other ways of thinking, doing and acting. This question is more and more being asked not only by expatriates, but also by governments feeling they have an opportunity in reaching to their expatriates. They understand that by empowering their citizens living abroad, they turn them into ambassadors. The benefit is obvious and bears a catchy name: it is called soft power, according to the concept carved by Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University. 4
  5. 5. Swiss abroad: an overview Swiss living abroad have been granted political rights in 1975 By lack of practical solution, this law could not be enforced until postal voting arrived 20 years later 680'000 Swiss citizens live abroad 500'000 are over 18 and might vote Only 125'000 are registered on the voting lists, this number grows regularly and we expect iVoting to give it a boost Residents' registration is automatic, expatriates' one is not Chancellerie d'Etat Although iVoting offers expatriates a practical advantage, while it offers a subjective advantage to residents, in both case it helps us reaching farther (people farther from politics among residents, people farther from Switzerland in terms of postal delays for expatriates) and new constituencies. It must be emphasised that, as Switzerland did not have a colonial past nor led expansion wars, the overwhelming majority of our expatriates are truly Swiss. This makes it easier to consider giving them political rights. Besides, the need for registration for expatriates introduces a "natural" discriminating factor between those who are interested and those who are not. Out of the 26 cantons, some 10 give then cantonal political rights next to the federal one and 3 give them communal political rights. 5
  6. 6. iVoting adoption by Geneva expatriates Chancellerie d'Etat A quick summary of online votes shows that three quarters originated in France, where there is a very strong Swiss community, notably of commuters living over the border from Geneva. From the 16'000 Genevans living in France, we estimate that 6000 live over the border. Next come in decreasing order the United States with roughly 5% of all online votes, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy and Belgium. If I take the reverse approach and look for the countries where online votes were predominant, Japan is number one with two thirds of all online ballots, followed closely by the United States, Netherland, Belgium, Portugal, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece and France. Lowest share: 20% South Africa Highest: 100% (Nordic Countries, Eastern European countries, Korea, Cyprus) 6
  7. 7. Illustration 100 50 % Fin% 100 100 67 NOR 100 42 % % % % BUL CRO SW 50 58 % 55 UK % IRE % 61 % RUS Bel 45 CDN % % 60 100 64 63 55 46 NL GER % % % % TCH % % 32 SLO 100 Jap USA P SP % 33 33 33 F % % % IT GR % 75 UC 100 IT % % 100 TU KO % CYP 50 % 20% Aus SA 50 75 % % NZ AR Share of votes cast online, country by country for the Sept. 2009 ballot Chancellerie d'Etat This map illustrates how far we reached with our application. There is obviously a public out there in the world waiting for us to offer a practical solution for the exercise of its political rights. You may know the concept of Soft Power, carved by Joseph Nye, political science professor at Harvard. It is the seduction force of countries, the positive and forward looking image they are able to project outside of their borders. iVoting and the direct democracy is an important element of Switzerland's soft power, although we are just beginning offering it to our citizens abroad. Only one African country appears on the map, the Republic of South Africa, and only a handful of Asian counties. Why? For Africa, this may reflect the situation of internet access in the continent, but it is actually also a consequence of the federal government decision to allow online voting only from EU countries, or countries that have ratified the Wassenaar arrangement on the export of dual-use goods and service. This international agreement serves as an indicator of countries that respect freedom of speech and free circulation of information. Electronic encryption is a “dual use service”, meaning that it has both a civilian and a military use. It is therefore regulated by an international treaty called the Wassenaar Agreement. As a consequence and since we use military-grade encryption, we can only provide access to our online voting platform to the Swiss living in the European Union or in one of the countries that signed this agreement. This may sound restrictive, but it actually covers some 95% of our expatriates. 7
  8. 8. Connected to their homeland Chancellerie d'Etat This image shows in corrected time the moment of the day when expatriates voted. You may think it is anecdotal, yet I included it as it shows in my opinion the normality of voting for expatriates. If I look at the way I function, I perform during the day the task related to my daily life and at night the more personal businesses or those which require some thinking or information searching. Assuming this is a fairly regular pattern of activities, this image shows that most (about 70%) expatriates who voted online in September and November last year did so during office hours, that is during their main flow of activities. Although Switzerland was a geographically distant occurrence to them, they acted as if it were a business as usual issue. In this respect, I find this chart very interesting. We took the opportunity of this ballot to conduct a socio-political study. More than half the expatriate voters filled our questionnaire and 75% of them said that internet voting will bring them closer to their home country. The Swiss expatriates organisation (http://www.aso.ch/, a semi-public body) is building on this observation and planning an online social networking platform for expatriates to be launched later in 2010. The federal government had launched 10 years ago www.swissinfo.ch, a web site that offers political information about Switzerland tailored for expatriates. 8
  9. 9. Fully normal iVoting is the 30‐39 years old main voting channel Chancellerie d'Etat What is interesting here is that the distribution of iVoting use among expatriates according to their age is exactly the same as the distribution among Swiss residents as shown by a previous study by the Geneva university (see http://www.ge.ch/evoting/english/rapports.asp). The qualitative effect does not affect the patterns of use among the expatriates. They just use iVoting in a more massive way than the residents. The share of those saying they would have voted anyway is the almost exact percentage given by studies conducted in Geneva with residents. iVoting is the main voting channel for the 30-39 years old. In Geneva, we have noticed it to be the main channel for the 50-59. The assumption according which iVoting is the way of the young proves therefore wrong. 9
  10. 10. Vote with the majority This chart shows the percentage of "yes" vote to the questions asked in the Sept. and  Nov. 2009 ballots The expatriates' choices is largely similar to the residents' choices Only on issues dealing with openness to the world is there a difference to be noticed Chancellerie d'Etat •disability insurance: proposal to increase the value-added tax rate to pay for the deficit of this insurance •Citizen's initiative: referendum on the abandonment of one form of direct democracy instrument that was never used because it is quite impracticable •Air traffic: Federal government decision of 3.10.2008 for the creation of a fund to finance the extension of airports •Munitions: Citizen's initiative of 21.9.2007 "For the prohibition of the export of munitions" •Minarets: Citizen's initiative of 8.7.2008 "Against the construction of minarets". On this topic, there is striking difference in the vote of residents and expatriates. Although both repelled the ban of minarets, the expatriates did it by a far larger margin. 10
  11. 11. A tropism to the centre When asked about their political positioning, iVote using expatriates tend to locate themselves in the centre While it is true that they are less polarized than resident voters, the real distribution is the opposite of this one Citizens tend to concentrate in the extremities There might be here a bias of the survey Chancellerie d'Etat When asked about their political positioning, expatriates tend to gather to the centre. Yet, for elections they do not vote in a very different way than the residents. Therefore, I suppose there is a bias in theses answers. The bias could be of two sorts: -people tend to smoothen their real political positioning in answering the questionnaire -only model citizens responded to the survey and this explains why we have this distribution I do not think that this shows a bias in the political preferences of the iVote users, because others surveys have shown that the political preference has no impact on the choice of the voting channel (except for those supporting the SVP-UDC populist party). 11
  12. 12. Extending iVoting to more expatriates The conception of the Geneva  platform allows a great deal of versatility Geneva took advantage of this to propose other Swiss cantons to host their citizens on its system  We currently have a partnership with three cantons  representing some 25'000 expatriate voters in addition to ours By charging for maintenance and development, Geneva has cut its own expenses The joint project management is an added security factor  because it forces Geneva to optimise its procedures Chancellerie d'Etat Geneva owns the intellectual property of its iVoting application. That is why we can offer it to other interested parties, whether Swiss cantons of foreign entities. 12
  13. 13. The hosting illustrated Hosted canton Hosting canton Ballot description Ballot type (date, topic, etc). 1 Voters id / authentication Electoral register Electoral 2 of the hosted register canton 3 electronic ballot Voting material Print file box 4 Voters Voting cards ng 6 E-voti 5 Results – Turnout Postal voting recording Publication Chancellerie d'Etat 13
  14. 14. What it costs us The initial investment was 2 millions Swiss francs (roughly same amount in 2010 dollars) The maintenance and development is roughly 15% of that amount per year The 150 K Swiss francs hardware has to be renewed every 4 to 5 years We have a team of 5 people working on this project We will be saving money as soon as 30'000 residents use the system Chancellerie d'Etat 14
  15. 15. Thank you for your attention www.ge.ch/evoting michel.chevallier@etat.ge.ch Chancellerie d'Etat 15