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According to this page:

You may cross out the name of one or several candidates.

The candidates whose names are crossed out do not receive a vote, however the new blank spaces still count as votes for the party on the ballot paper you chose.

So say for example I'm in Ticino (8 seats) and I simply vote for a list with 8 candidates. However, I cross out one of the candidates. Does this mean that each of the remaining 7 candidates (that I did not cross out) get 1 + 1/7 of my votes?

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If you cross out the name of one candidate, and make no other changes, then the party gets 8 votes, but the candidate doesn't get a vote. The other candidates get one vote each. Party votes and votes given to a single candidate (so-called candidate votes) are added and compose the number of votes for the list. If a list wins one or more seats, the candidates with the highest number of candidate votes wins. (wikipedia)

In a slightly more complex example: "a voter can use the Social Democratic ballot with the candidates A, B and C but choose to strike B and C and write-in D from the Greens. A will get a candidate vote as well as D, and the Social Democrats will gain 2 votes overall and the Greens 1."

This is intended to work as expected. If you strike a candidate from a list, you don't change don't change your support for the party, but lower the chances of that candidate being selected.

  • Could you add some sources (other than Wikipedia which doesn't cite any source)? The reason I'm skeptical is that when looking at the results, I usually only see the number of votes for each candidate. But if it is as you described, then the number of votes for each list is quite a different matter from simply adding up the list's candidates' votes. In which case I would've expected them to also publish the number of votes for each list. But so far I have never seen that. – Kenny LJ Jul 9 '17 at 7:55
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The other candidates would not get the remaining vote, the vote would simply go to the party without a name attached to it. This is because if every candidate were to get 1/7 of the vote you crossed out, you could take a list of 8, cross out 7 and all of these 7 votes would go to the remaining candidate on the list. The Swiss system does encourage expressing a preference for a candidate, but giving all of your votes to one candidate would create a unbalance, making it more difficult for new candidates to win a seat.

If you really want to only support one candidate and increase his or her chances of winning, then you'd have to cross out 7 of the 8 candidates, write down your preferred candidate's name a second time and leave all the other lines "blank". Therefore giving your candidate's party all of your 8 votes but not giving out the remaining 6 candidates' votes.

Also, you are right about how most media outlets do not publish the number of votes for each list. Which is why some election results end up being portrayed a bit misleadingly, encouraging the assumption that anything from 7'000 to 23'000 votes can get you into parliament (see Canton Basel-Town for instance). When in fact it's the percentage of party votes that really matters.

I found the following site to be very helpful (unfortunately most official websites do not offer extensive explanations in English).

  • If anything continues to be unclear or if I made a mistake, please let me know (the Swiss elections system is quite complicated and unusual). – Amb Jul 14 '17 at 13:02

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