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New case studies from the Internet & Democracy project

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce that the Internet & Democracy project, in association with the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, has added a new set of case studies to its series of critical investigations into the Internet's impact on democracy and democratic processes:

Three Case Studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication, by Urs Gasser, James Thurman, Jan Gerlach, Richard Staeuber

From the Executive Summary: 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, we have organized the case studies presented here around three specific examples within the Swiss context that, in turn, map roughly onto three distinct stages of the democratic process:

  • 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, we 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 we can discern contributions to central principles of the democratic process, namely voter participation and citizen awareness.

Download the full executive summary and the three case studies at http://cyber.harvard.edu/publications/2009/Switzerland_case_studies.
As always, we invite your feedback and comments. Join the conversation on the Internet & Democracy blog.

This set of studies joins five previously released papers on South Korea, Ukraine, Iran, Burma, and Kenya. For access to all of these or for more information about the Internet & Democracy project, visit http://cyber.harvard.edu/research/internetdemocracy.

Congratulations to our Internet & Democracy colleagues and University of St. Gallen collaborators on these excellent new papers!

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Three Case Studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication

With the globalization of Internet use, the deployment of technology to improve democracy has rapidly gained worldwide attention. These case studies are organized around three… More