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Swiss town casts votes, reaches decisions in open-air with show of hands

Christian Hartmann / Reuters

People raise their hands to vote during the annual Landsgemeinde meeting at a square in the town of Appenzell, Switzerland, April 29.

Appenzell is one of Switzerland's two remaining Landsgemeinde, a 700-year tradition of an open-air assembly in which citizens can make key political decisions directly by raising their hands. The practice has been abolished in all but two cantons, as many believed true democracy could not be achieved since there was no anonymity in voting and the process simply became too unweildy as populations grew.