Agora Official Statement Regarding Sierra Leone Election
We have received several requests asking for clarity on Agora’s involvement in the Sierra Leone election. Most of these questions stem from a targeted campaign against Agora, which we will discuss later in this official statement.
First, we would like to state the facts.
Here Are The Facts:
- Agora’s official capacity in the March 2018 Sierra Leone presidential election was as an international observer. This was stated in our official press release.
- Agora was accredited as an international observer by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). A spokesman for the NEC publicly confirmed our observer status here. Badges of two team members are pictured above.
- Official election results only come from the NEC. This is stated on Agora’s election results page and in all interviews.
- Agora was accredited to cover 280 polling locations in the West Districts of Sierra Leone.
- A partial deployment of our technology was used in the election. This is stated on our current homepage, our Telegram channel and in many interviews.
- Agora’s results are very close to the ones published by the NEC for the same area. We have provided a numerical comparison later in this statement.
- Agora’s results were published on our website 5 days before the end of the official manual count carried out by the NEC.
- Agora’s goal was to have this election demonstrate our capabilities and open the door for further cooperation with the NEC in the future.
- Votes were recorded as follows:
- Paper ballots were folded and placed into boxes by voters.
- Once they were full, ballot boxes were unsealed and emptied onto a surface by NEC polling station agents in front of observers.
- Boxes were emptied and refilled with the same ballots five times to conduct various election counts.
- NEC polling station agents showed each ballot to the international observers and announced each written vote out loud.
- Agora tallied results, which were manually recorded onto our blockchain using digital devices. Our recording of ballots differed from that of NEC polling station agents when votes were discarded as invalid; Agora still recorded them.
- Ballot boxes were later taken to NEC tallying centers, where regional counts were performed by the NEC. This is outside of Agora’s scope of engagement in the election.
Agora cares deeply about making transparent elections a reality in Sierra Leone. We would like to thank Sierra Leone and the NEC for permitting us to participate with our technology as international observers in the election.
SLOEDP’s Campaign Against Agora
Most of the media pushback we have received over the past week stems from an organization called Sierra Leone Open Election Data Platform (SLOEDP). This organization, which goes by the name OpenElections SL on Twitter, reached out to many writers who covered Agora.
A person associated with the company, Tamba Lamin, posted the following message on Agora’s Telegram and Facebook (posts still available on Telegram).
Mr. Lamin also wrote an article on Medium and SLOEDP’s blog, attacking our involvement in the election. While we are unclear about the motivations of SLOEDP, their stated description as “an open source platform to facilitate free, fair, safe, secure and transparent elections” is directly competing or overlapping in nature with Agora’s technology. Furthermore, slides from a LAM-TECH public presentation on the electiondata.io website show clear conflicts of interest between our two organizations.
On the footer of the SLOEDP website we find their organization is “currently sponsored by LAM-TECH.”
Another slide from their public presentation shows Tamba S. Lamin as the CTO of the LAM-TECH organization.
Moving on, SLOEDP does acknowledge Agora was present at the election in the capacity we publicly stated.
We believe SLOEDP is upset by the narrative surrounding Agora’s Sierra Leone media coverage. Sensational headlines have become a “norm” of the internet, and we agree that both companies and media outlets have a responsibility to cover events accurately. This was Agora’s first major media event, and we are creating internal policies to further support this goal in the future.
We invite SLOEDP to join Agora in creating a positive and honest dialogue that leads to the establishment of digitally verifiable elections in Sierra Leone.
The Results Of Our Engagement in Sierra Leone
We are excited to report that Agora’s results as an international observer were extremely close to the NEC’s official election count. A comparison of Agora and NEC tallies is provided below. Please note that only the NEC provides official results for Sierra Leone’s elections.
Again, we would like to thank both the NEC and Sierra Leone for permitting us to participate in their election as an international observer. We deeply respect the global leadership you have demonstrated by testing innovative voting technologies which demonstrate your commitment to a transparent election process.
Our Mission For Open Democracy
Agora is committed to spreading transparent elections around the world, which in our view has the potential to offer great value for global human rights. We passionately believe that a true democracy should reflect the voice of its people, with honest elections being a foundational element. We will continue pursuing our mission to empower voters globally, no matter what obstacles confront us.
It’s no secret that elections, even in technologically-advanced countries, are tainted by voting fraud. Agora stands behind the people of democracies protecting their rights and will always work on their behalf.
Since this recent election, citizens of Sierra Leone and other countries around the world have reached out to our team after learning of Agora’s work. These passionate individuals all appeared to have the same question for us: “How do I bring blockchain elections to my country?” You who have contacted us are the early leaders in a movement that is just beginning.
We believe blockchain is the only technology in existence today that can achieve fully transparent elections. Using blockchain, all steps and data of the election process can be recorded on a publicly verifiable ledger while maintaining the anonymity of voters. The implications of fully-verifiable elections could be world-changing and impact the global balance of power.
In the future, we expect various groups to run smear campaigns on our organization for a variety reasons. We are operating in a politically-motivated sector with both domestic and international competitors, many of whom are locked in with government officials. Despite the headlines, Agora’s team will be working to make transparent elections a global reality.
If our mission inspires you, we hope you will become part of it. We invite you to stand with us for the global protection of transparent democracies. The best way to start is by participating in our Reddit and Telegram channels. Thank you. Please direct further questions to this thread on Reddit.