The Swiss government has issued a 150,000 Swiss franc (US$149,790, €131,000) challenge to online hackers; break into our new generation electronic voting system and we'll reward you.
The federal chancellery announced a dummy run election will be held from February 25 to March 24 and invited anyone who wants to display their online piracy talents to sign up at https://onlinevote-pit.ch.
Labelled the E-Voting Public Intrusion Test, hackers have until 25th February to register for the project. According to the portal, the government is offering different sums for different tasks.
The biggest single prize, 50,000 Swiss francs (€43,000), will go to anyone who manages to manipulate the vote count without being detected.
They can then "try to manipulate the vote count, to read the votes cast, to violate voting secrecy or to bypass security systems," it said in a statement.
Should test participants find ways of manipulating individual votes that are undetectable by voters and trusted auditors , or even a way to scale manipulation of votes that is undetectable by voters and trusted auditors, they could be rewarded with between between 30'000 50'000 Swiss francs (€26,000 – €43,000).
Other detections of voter manipulation or intrusion on a voter's privacy will be rewarded with smaller fees – the amount of the reward paid out will depend upon the level of intrusion achieved by each hacker.
The Swiss authorities hope this exercise will help assure, or perhaps improve, the security of the new generation electronic voting system.
Regularly called upon to take part in referendums and votes, many Swiss electors prefer to cast their ballots over several weeks by post at polling stations and, increasingly, online.
Electronic voting has been on trial in several Swiss cantons since 2004. Late last year the government launched an initiative to establish online voting as a third option nationwide within two years.