On the ground in Sierra Leone — can blockchain solve electoral fraud?

credit: https://unsplash.com/@al_atoaikins

A reality that exist for some

The street is full of people, I don’t know where they’ve all come from. I also don’t know who threw the first Molotov cocktail or where the rubber bullets will land — all I know is the crushing crowd is taking me away from my goal. The polling station gets further and further away, as the collective anger grows and grows.

I only came to the town square for one reason, to vote, to make my voice heard.

Somehow I’ve ended up in a side street, the riot eddies around me like a river around a stone, in this moment of calm I see a poster. I’ve seen it before, it has the photos of the candidates with QR codes next to them asking you to vote using the blockchain. I live in a poor country, but I’m lucky enough to have a smartphone and within a minute I’ve used my digital license to authenticate and used my tokens to vote. I might be scared, I might be a single person in a sea of terror, but I know that now no one can take my voice away. I’ve done what I came here to do, I will be heard and hopefully no one will experience this again.

Not just an American problem

Yes it’s a bit of fiction, but is it really? I write this on the eve of getting on a plane to Sierra Leone during an election in a country that has struggled in the past with government corruption and distrust. America is still embroiled in an investigation around voter tampering, and if it can happen to an advanced democracy what’s stopping it from happening anywhere else in the world?

The problem is complicated, as it’s rooted in people and ideology and won’t be solved by technology. However, with the correct policy, political will, as well as technology; the problem of voter intimidation and fraud could all but be eliminated.

One of the key tenets of democracy is one person one vote and having a say in things that affect you and our family’s future. If this is undermined it destroys trust between citizens and government,
we are hoping Decentralized ID and the implementation of self-sovereignty will solve this.

How can blockchain solve voter fraud

Blockchain technology is ideally suited to solve voting misconduct, due to it’s immutability it can’t be hacked. For the purposes of this article we are assuming that you, the reader have a passing understanding of what a blockchain is. We at Decentralized ID Foundation have one purpose and that’s to put your identity back in your control, to make you a sovereign nation onto yourself. In the context of an election, if there was a software schema (that the foundation already has) allowing 100% certainty of a user’s identity, then this combined with a blockchain enabled app would solve the issue of fraud. As the blockchain is an immutable ledger and paired with the correct checks and balances (KYC, digital driver’s license, etc.) it would allow citizens and governments to heal the wounds around the democratic process. Once you bring trust back into the process, something DID can do via our software, you open up possibilities not available before.

Live pilot in Sierra Leone -

What are we doing at the elections in Sierra Leone and why is it a game changer? As dramatized in the first paragraph this type of technology can protect human rights and revolutionize the democratic process.

On March 7th 2018 we will be at polling locations and recording the vote in real-time, additionally we will be testing a Proof Of Concept (POC) voting app while running a co-design process with citizens. For those not familiar with our software schema our Blockchain Originated Certificate of Authority (BOCA) creates an unbreakable chain between the user and the issuing authority assuring your anonymity and verifies that the person requesting the ID is who they say they are.

The pilot will highlight if there are any discrepancies between the live ballots and the official election results and the POC app will give a real-world use case study for crypto-positive voting applications

Diagram 01: The BOCA authentication pattern

Closing thoughts

We are on the brink of a watershed moment, the blockchain is undoubtedly one of the leading disruptive technologies today and the Decntralized.ID Foundation are on the bleeding edge of this nascent trend. We are investing heavily in this pilot, as we think that proving the use cases around revitalizing the democratic process has far reaching consequences and will benefit all of humanity.

About Decentralized ID

DID is a software schema and a Foundation geared towards protecting your ID on the Blockchain. DID puts your ID in your control by Decentralizing it. As of its launch in September 2017, DID comes with a working software schema based on mobile wallets and the Ethereum Network to show how ID verification can be performed on a Blockchain. DID also provides a draft proposal for how to achieve this and recommends starting a foundation to oversee how ID is being used/transferred in a Crypto-world. The project is working closely with a Government department to conduct a pilot study of putting driving licences and voting cards ID on the Blockchain.

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