Voting on Blockchain: first real use cases to test the power of transparency
Two experiments have already been carried out around the world to see if blockchain technology can be used as a basis for developing new systems for managing elections.
The first was held in Sierra Leone, created by a Swiss company: Agora (agora.vote). This wasn’t a testing vote process on an IT platform, but a model of results recording on a blockchain-based public computer ledger, whereby results were made public days earlier than those recorded with the classic manual counting.
Elections were held with traditional systems, including votes collection and registration. In addition, the country western district votes were also recorded on blockchain and made public very quickly.
The system used has been created in a specific way for this experiment, ensuring that data can be verified by third parties and protected against any tampering. Furthermore, blockchain ensures a permanent and transparent record of data, with the aim of combating corruption and reducing possible fraud.
According to the organizers, blockchain offers security and transparency requirements that previous systems don’t have, and Africa is the ideal place to conduct this kind of test process.
Sierra Leone was the first in the world to use this new technology in this field. National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone has decided to test with this solution because the vote count has always been slow and expensive. With the new system they hope to reduce costs and be able to make results public in a short time.
A second test was held at Zug, in Switzerland, and it was a real online voting test. Only 72 citizens took part in the vote — which however had no legal value — but according to the organizers it was a success.
Voters had to request and obtain a digital ID in order to vote, and they cast their vote on an online platform called e-Vote. Vote was recorded anonymously on the Ethereum blockchain, and was then made available for counting. However, technical details haven’t been revealed yet, but according to the organizers will be revealed in the coming weeks.
For now, it is still too early to draw conclusions from these tests, except that blockchain has actually shown how it can be used successfully both to collect and record votes.
These two tests were carried out differently, and with different technologies, such as a private specific blockchain in Sierra Leone and the decentralized blockchain of Ethereum at Zug.
It is also very difficult to imagine that these tests could lead to the development of definitive and reliable tools for voting online, so the path to be taken is still very long. However, we can claim that this path has already begun, and that for now first steps seem to have given positive signals.
On the other hand, blockchain is a technology that seems to give guarantees that no other technology is able to give, especially if, as at Zug, you choose to use a decentralized blockchain, therefore impartial, not manipulable in any way, reliable, transparent and safety. For example, these features aren’t really guaranteed with the current counting, collection and publication systems, so it is conceivable that it could be a big step forward to rely on blockchain in this field.