How voting on the blockchain finds its application in politics and business

Published on November 28, 2016

How voting on the blockchain finds its application in politics and business

    imageThe results of the presidential election in the United States for many turned out to be a complete surprise. However, the mechanism of voting and its technological side have not undergone revolutionary changes. And the very concept of collective decision making is common both in politics and in other areas - for example, in finance. Is there a chance for a distributed registry technology to influence the voting process? We, the Wirex payment blockchain service team , decided to publish material on the prospects of distributed technologies for organizing the voting process, both within political institutions and beyond.

    According toEnglish writer and urbanist Adam Greenfield, the underlying blockchain technology in Bitcoin could theoretically serve as a basis for managing anything from a protest movement to a state organized according to the principles of impartial collective democracy.

    A relatively recent and actively developing technology of “distributed consensus” is described as something that can bring new forms of collective and conscious human interaction. Thanks to her, any group of people can come together in a kind of non-hierarchical association, which has capabilities comparable to those of a state or a corporation.

    According to Greenfield , the idea is that government structures at almost every level of the organization of society in the future may be replaced by voluntary associations represented by software products. Members of such groups can remain anonymous to each other if they wish, but their identities will be confirmed, and the authenticity of their will is established through the same processes that guarantee the security of the Bitcoin network. This means that every vote will be recorded and, if necessary, is always available for subsequent rechecking. As in Bitcoin's work, an attacker cannot substitute one voice without changing the entire chain of preceding blocks, which contain encrypted data about votes.

    In theory, the blockchain can even become a tool for the practical implementation of budgeting with public participation on any scale in the spirit of historical precedent in the Brazilian Port Alegre.

    To date, the blockchain is already used in politics - for the conduct of internal party elections.

    One of the first concepts of voting on the blockchain was the initiative of the Danish Liberal Alliance ( Liberal Alliance ). In 2014, the party’s leadership proposed using the technology of the distributed registry when conducting internal voting at the annual meeting of party members in Vidovre , a suburb of Copenhagen. Interest in the blockchain technology was caused by the autonomy of its work, which does not require the intervention of an intermediary. According to the statementmade by the party’s representative, the blockchain allows you to “look under the hood” and see what happens during the voting process.

    In February of this year, Australian bitcoin enthusiasts Max Kay and Nathan Spataro created the “Flow Party” ( Flux Party). The concept proposed by the founders involves the election of six senators who will not take the initiative themselves, but will be able to support or reject the proposals of all who are members of the party. The Flow Party model involves the use of tokens, which can either be used for self-voting or transferred to competent trustees. Six elected senators with representative functions will vote in parliament for various legislative initiatives according to the distribution of votes of participants in the party blockchain system.

    In March, the Libertarian Party of the United States announced its intentionuse blockchain technology in the election of candidates for internal party positions in Texas. Thanks to the hardware and software provided by Blockchain Technologies Corp., a New York-based company, representatives of the political association were able to organize the counting and counting of votes using the blockchain technology. Three QR codes were placed at the bottom of each ballot: the first QR code contained the blockchain address, the second was the ballot ID, and the third was the voting ID. After scanning QR codes, the data on the votes in favor of one or another candidate were entered into the blockchain, which protects the results from falsification. A total of 250 delegates took part in the “Texan” voting. Blockchain machines developed by Blockchain Technologies Corp. may in the future compete with the vote counting machines,

    In the USA, this is not the first case of using the blockchain technology in voting. In March, the Utah Republican Party used the blockchain to vote for candidates during the primaries. According to Wired , 59,000 Republicans from Utah registered to vote on the blockchain. Technological support for the electoral process was provided by the British company Smartmatic .

    In February, a group of volunteers and activists from public organizations signed a memorandum in Kiev.on the development of blockchain service for voting E-vox. The system is designed to ensure transparency of voting results at all levels - from municipal elections to the election of parliamentarians. The system was developed by Ambisafe . As the main advantage, the creators of the service note the absence of intermediaries affecting the election results. The voting results recorded in the blockchain are open and can be used by government agencies to make strategic decisions. The development process of E-vox also involves the creation of open source software that conforms to the MIT license. The E-vox technology is based on the Ethereum blockchain. At the end of August of this year, the E-vox team reportedabout the upcoming launch of the blockchain voting solution e-Vox: NaRada in the city Rada Balty of the Odessa region.

    From the point of view of the organization of popular voting, the British writer Greenfield mentioned above cites relatively fresh projects: Backfeed and democracy.earth . They, in his opinion, are ambitious ideas of a collective network of civil society.

    These tools confirm the legitimacy of operations with the help of calculations alone, without relying on the authority of any government or banking institution. The solutions provided by Greenfield provide organizers with the opportunity to unite people in groups as soon as possible, providing clear, safe and responsible decision-making processes to all participants. Such techniques allow you to put forward proposals, raise questions for discussion in a team of equal members, giving them enough time to think before submitting a question to a vote.

    Among the advantages of blockchain technology in voting, the British writer and urbanist Greenfield highlights :

    • Opportunity for network users to participate in public life directly from your laptop (or smartphone, or gaming platform). With this approach, anyone who, by virtue of his work activity or the need to take care of a child and fulfill family obligations, can become involved in this process, is too exhausted or simply does not have time to attend the meeting where decisions are made.
    • Preventing the interception of the initiative by one of the participants trying to use the meeting for personal gain.
    • No need to gather all stakeholders in a certain place and at a certain time to make decisions on everyday issues. Thus, people would be able to get an opportunity to take part in public life when it is convenient for them and in the way it suits them.
    • The ability to compare decisions taken by different authorities or jurisdictions, or to compare them with the results of past local voting. All the details of the public process of self-determination can also be available to everyone. Each participant can check his own voice, and make sure that the votes of other participants are accurate.

    Technology blockchain is of interest not only in politics. In our post on the use of the blockchain in Estonia , we mentioned the case of successful application of distributed registry technology to organize the voting of shareholders on the Estonian NASDAQ. The results of the February pilot launch confirmed the advantages of the blockchain, which consists in the inability to change the voting data, as well as the ability to see its results remotely from mobile devices or personal computers.

    In April of this year, the National Settlement Depository of the Russian Federation declaredon the successful results of the test run of the blockchain-voting system e-proxy voting for bondholders. The NXT blockchain platform was used as the basis for developing the solution. The development was carried out in collaboration with DSX Technologies. The results of the company published on GitHub . The prototype uses the ISO 20022 electronic exchange standard . Messaging is cascading through chains of nominal holders from both the issuer to the holder of securities and in the opposite direction.

    The organization of the transmission and counting of voting instructions lies with NSD. Distributed register of e-proxy voting is supported simultaneously by all voters. Registration of voting instructions takes place in the blockchain.

    NSD's solution developers announced a performance of 80 operations per second for networking of 10–20 nodes. According to Eddie Astanin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of NSD, the blockchain development designed for voting makes it possible to receive up to 100 thousand votes per hour. The pilot launch participants were offered only 2 types of questions that require a yes, no, I don't know, or a choice of answers from the list.

    In October of this year, the financial company Broadridge invested $ 95 million in the blockchain. According to preliminary data, Broadridge plans to use the technology in the development of solutions designed to organize the voting of shareholders. Blockchain provides transparency and the possibility of remote participation in the corporate electoral process.

    If we consider the blockchain technology in the voting at the state level, immediately there are some problems with the introduction of new technologies. Greenfield cites statistics, according to which just over 60% of North Americans have smart devices, and this is not enough to organize a full network voting.

    The general enthusiasm for the universality of blockchain technologies also cooled the attack on The DAO, when the attacker managed to find a vulnerability and withdraw about $ 53 million. The precedent with the distributed autonomous organization based on Ethereum demonstrated a lack of reliability of the blockchain technology.

    Voting on the blockchain at the state level has not only failed to become mainstream, but so far has not even formed a complete case in any of the world states. But, as the experience of the parties of the USA, Denmark and Australia, as well as the pilot case of NSD, shows, the voting on the blockchain can already be effectively used within relatively narrow and specialized associations.

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