Switzerland was one of the last few countries in the world to allow women to vote, women were only allowed to participate in elections at the federal level in 1971. On the cantonal level women were allowed to vote in 1959. Nevertheless having said that many might wonder what voting rights and privileges do they currently have in Switzerland and where and when can they vote, read on as we consider some of these basic questions.
Even though parliamentary elections in Switzerland are held every four years, Swiss citizens get a chance to vote on many popular issues three or four times a year. Some of these votes are related to the local canton or commune.
Everyone has a say on current issues like banning smoking in local restaurants for example, funding a new museum, or extending a local bus service route in the commune.
Swiss Voting Rights
Adult voting age in Switzerland starts from 18 years of age. Individuals who do not have impaired judgement and are not under guardianship are allowed to vote both in federal and national council votes.
A Swiss citizen is allowed to launch and provide his or her signature in referendums and initiatives at a federal level. Certain cantons allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote on cantonal and communal issues, voting at a federal level is still strictly reserved at 18 years of age and above.
Swiss citizens living abroad also have the ability to vote, at the Swiss diplomatic mission. Voters have to be registered at the Swiss mission and be on the electoral roll of a Swiss commune. Voters can also take part in the elections of the council of states only if the local cantonal law permits.
How To Vote In Swiss Elections
Before a local or federal election takes place official voting papers and information are sent directly to local homes by the commune. This is not the only way to vote, there are a number of other ways, an individual can go in person to the polling station, vote through the local post office, or online.
If you will be voting at the local polling station simply put your completed ballot in the ballot box. When voting at the post office carefully follow the instruction on the papers, in most cantons you will have to pay for the postage on your own.
Voting online is another option; the e-voting system is slowly gaining momentum in federal and cantonal elections.The electronic voting system is a feasible option for Swiss residents living abroad. It provides people with a way of exercising their political right without going in person to a polling station.
If you live in cantons like Geneva or Neuchatel you can freely use the e-voting system even if you do not live abroad. For other cantons the situation might differ, the Swiss authorities are gradually introducing e-voting across the nation in the next few years.