Blockchain gets vote of confidence to verify elections
Blockchain technology made its debut at the polls in a part of Sierra Leone.
The innovations of blockchain technology threaten to disrupt a wide swath of global industries, and politics is not excluded. Leveraging the unchangeable nature of transactions that are verified on a distributed network, the African nation of Sierra Leone put the blockchain to work at the polls in one of its highly populated regions to verify votes cast in last week’s presidential election, Inverse Culture reported.
Voters still submitted paper ballots, but startup foundation Agora – with permission from the country’s National Election Committee – entered each of as many as 400,000 votes into its distributed ledger. The limited test was a historic first for a government anywhere in the world.
And more experimentation is likely to follow. The article noted that Agora is already in talks to use the blockchain in elections across a number of other African and European nations. In the US, pro-blockchain politicians on both sides of the aisle have formed the Congressional Blockchain Caucus to advocate for high-tech transparency and accountability in the government’s dealings.
Besides the obvious advantages of secure voting that would be protected from fraud, there are still concerns about Agora’s current version of the technology – particularly the public nature of transactions on the distributed ledger, which could take transparency all the way to the vote level, enabling anyone to see who voted for whom. One alternative being talked about that would safeguard voter privacy would sacrifice the decentralized nature of blockchain technology and put the votes under some control by election officials.
At the least, the Sierra Leone test will likely advance the conversation surrounding blockchain elections.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds XRP, CND, ANT and DRGN, and actively trades BTC and ETH.