Thought Starter: Can Blockchain Secure More Democratic Elections?

Sarah Smythe

What exactly is blockchain? Well, it had to be the first question for Jamie Skella, regardless of it laying bare my tech ignorance. The co-founder and CPO of the future focused Horizon State explains how this near foolproof digital ledger is already democratising our vote.

“Blockchain is ultimately a record book,” explains Skella. “The record book is digital, shared, synchronised and stored by many thousands of computers, so it’s virtually tamper proof: conceptually, you would have to hack every computer at once.”

Wow, up until now I thought it was a part of bitcoin, which if I’m to be honest makes me think of shady business deals. Skella, preceding my assumption, is quick to point out that “bitcoin and blockchain are not the same thing, cryptocurrency is just one of the ways blockchain can be used to accurately and securely record a transaction.”

“Like our vote,” I said starting to get it. “Yes,” said Skella.

“Working with the democratic movement MiVote, for example, we’ve applied blockchain to not only increase security in a way that has never been achieved with traditional voting systems, but costs and collation time are significantly reduced.”

Though, he stated, the decentralisation of the ballot box is the most exciting development. “People have trust because the record of result is no longer owned or modifiable by any government, institution, or individual.”

The aesthetic strikes me. How silly is it to wait on a polling booth line in a digital age? Skella, clearly focused on the contribution to humankind, takes the feature of online voting a step further underlining how it reduces election apathy:

“Not only is the turnout low, it’s actually physically unsafe to vote in many developing countries. The use of blockchain technology reduces risk, encouraging greater democratic participation and the empowering knowledge that our vote really does count.”

Photo credit: Arnaud Jaegers

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