Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021: Large majority of the population in favour of e-voting
Zurich/Geneva, 28 December 2021
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, people in Switzerland have made more use than before of digital public services. A total of 38 percent of the population have become more open to government digital services during this time. At the same time however, according to Deloitte's latest Swiss Digital Government Study, 21 percent of respondents have less trust in the state's existing digital services less than they did before the pandemic - many cite cybersecurity and data protection as key reasons. As in the previous Deloitte survey, the vast majority want standardised digital offerings across Switzerland, provided by the government and not by private companies. Many respondents are also very open towards new digital services: for example, 84 per cent would like to vote electronically. The authorities now face the challenge of finding efficient and user-friendly digital solutions that also address the public's concerns regarding cyber risk and data security.
The COVID pandemic is turning out to be a catalyst for digitalisation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people in Switzerland have not only made more use of online shopping and e-banking: according to a recent survey by Deloitte, they are also increasingly using digital public services. 38 percent of the 1,000 survey respondents living in Switzerland have developed a greater openness to e-government services during this time. At the same time, however, 21 percent of respondents say that their trust in digital services provided by the government has decreased, far more than in last year's Deloitte survey (7%).
"The pandemic has greatly changed the behaviour and expectations of the population towards the online services," explains Rolf Brügger, Director for Government & Public Services at Deloitte Switzerland. "The desire for more digital services from public authorities and willingness to use them has clearly increased. However while digital services are becoming more popular, more people are concerned about the potential risks − especially when it comes to cybersecurity and data protection."
Saving time and gaining flexibility
The survey respondents see far-reaching advantages in digital public services. In addition to the benefits of simplicity (68%) and self-service (68%), the main reasons for using digital public services are time savings (72%), geographical flexibility (72%) and time flexibility (75%). Only a relatively small proportion of around eight percent on average see no added value in digital services provided by public authorities. "Our survey clearly shows that the population is aware of and very much appreciates the many advantages of a digital switch," says Rolf Brügger. "People want to be able to interact with the authorities, just as they do banking and shopping online. Digital services must be easy and quick to obtain, even from smartphones. However, citizens expect higher security standards in digital exchanges with the municipality than when they buy clothes or order a car ride."
Standardised and governmental
As in last year's survey, a clear majority (73%) would like to see standardised services provided by the authorities throughout Switzerland. Furthermore, 86% of respondents want these digital services to be provided by a state agency and not by private companies. "Our survey shows that scepticism towards private providers is even greater than in the referendum on the E-ID last spring, where a clear majority of the population was already against private companies supplying e-government services," explains Rolf Brügger. "The federal government, cantons and municipalities are now tasked with developing efficient and more secure digital services that meet uniform standards throughout Switzerland and are easily accessible to the entire population."
Majority wants to vote electronically
A clear majority of the people surveyed would like new services that go beyond the e-government services they already know and use. For example, 84 percent say that they would like to order their passport or ID digitally, without having to go to the passport office.
Furthermore referendums are an important part of the relationship between the population and the state - especially in Switzerland. The Deloitte survey shows that there is also a demand for more digitalisation in this area. 84 percent of respondents say they would like to cast their vote electronically. As it happens, in April of this year the Federal Council decided to take another look at the the legal basis for electronic voting.
"Even though we have debated e-voting for quite some time in this country, and individual cantons have carried out initial pilot projects, very little progress has been made so far," says Rolf Brügger. "The Federal Council's current initiative is an important step towards creating a modern, solid and secure basis for future e-voting, in dialogue between the authorities, the scientific community and the public. It is of central importance that, especially in such a sensitive area as e-voting, we take on board the concerns of voters about data security and privacy seriously and protect our democratic processes from any unwanted state or private interference."
In order to analyse and understand the behaviour and preferences of the Swiss population with regard to digital government services, in September 2021 Deloitte conducted a representative survey of 1,000 people aged 18 to 81 from urban and rural areas in the German and French-speaking parts of the country.