Accessible e-voting

Accessible e-voting 24.10.17

Accessibility of websites, applications and online services as a promoted measure is an expression of accessibility for the disabled as practised and lived by more and more companies and authorities.

For an e-voting solution to be classified as fully accessible, it must allow disabled voters to take part in elections and vote independently. 14% of the Swiss population have a disability (blindness, visual impairment, hearing impairment).

Different aids and methods are available depending on the disability: blind people can use a screen reader which reads content out to them, or people with motor impairments can use a mouth mouse to help them navigate. People with visual impairments can use screen enlarging programs.

Media disruption (voting documents containing the codes are still sent by post) poses a particularly difficult challenge for e-voting systems. Ultimately, however, e-voting is a great opportunity because traditional voting channels (postal voting and the ballot box) can also present problems for disabled people. Electronic voting saves people with physical disabilities the difficult journey to a letter box or polling station. For blind and visually impaired people, secret ballots are not guaranteed when the vote has to be written down, whereas with electronic voting, they can maintain their sought-after independence, and secret ballots can be guaranteed.

The topic “accessible voting” was first shown to a broad interest group, the public sector, accessibility partners and those directly affected at the Swiss E-Accessibility Forum at the Credit Suisse Forum St. Peter in Zurich on 1 June 2017. As a result, the topic received a lot of attention, and feedback from cantons and disability associations was positive.

At the forum, Swiss Post presented its solution with a focus on accessible voting (link to presentation). Swiss Post’s e-voting solution is based on the principles of accessibility. On 24 March 2017, as the only Swiss e-voting provider at the time, the solution was certified in accordance with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA by the “Access for all” foundation.

Isabelle Haas works as a Digital Consultant and Accessibility Specialist at Swiss Post