On Mar. 7, the world’s first ever blockchain-powered presidential elections was held in Sierra Leone making the country the first in the world to deploy blockchain technology for a presidential election.
The technology was used in the country’s Western District, the most populous in the country using a permissioned blockchain. The votes cast were manually recorded by Agora, a Swiss foundation offering digital voting solutions.
By using blockchain, Agora ensured transparency with votes casted in the district just as the technology helps ensure transparency with crytpocurrency transactions using public ledgers, by recording each vote on blockchain. The Permissioned blockchain used allowed entries could only be validated by authorized persons which then can be viewed by everyone.
This technology drastically reduced human interference and increased transparency in the recording process of the election. Lack of transparency in electoral processes is one of the biggest challenges in Africa where large sections of the electorate are often suspicious of incumbent parties or ethnic loyalties who easily manipulate election results in favor of one candidate or another. and because there is little or no trust in electorial processes, these suspicions remain even when there is little evidence of manipulation .
Blockchain technology can help restore trust and credibility to the electorial process
Agora is hoping to deploy solutions to automate the entire electoral process with citizens voting electronically using biometric data and personalized cryptographic keys and the votes in turn validated by blockchain.
According to a report by Quartz, CEO of Agora, Leonardo Gammar said, “I also thought that if we can do it in Sierra Leone, we can do it everywhere else.”
Gammar says blockchain-powered electronic voting will be cheaper for African countries by cutting out the printing cost of paper-based elections but perhaps, more importantly, vastly reduce electoral violence.
As Agora hopes to pull off more blockchain-powered elections on a larger scale in Africa, Gammar is confident of finding workarounds for local problems. “If phones are not available, you can go borrow. If you are blind, we can make your phone speak to you. If you don’t read, we can put up pictures,” he says. “There is no big technical issue. Everything else requires being imaginative.”