Government authorities in Russia’s Saratov region claim they have held “the biggest blockchain-powered elections in history” – as some 15,000 citizens cast their votes in the area’s youth parliamentary elections.
The elections were held in conjunction with Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Labs, the developer of Polys, an online voting platform powered by blockchain technology. The company claims its platform provides “secure, anonymous and scalable online voting,” with tamper-proof results and encryption that secures voter anonymity. The platform makes use of Ethereum smart contract technology.
The Saratov vote, reports CNews, was conducted in more than 45 Saratov-region constituencies, and involved operating 110 polling booths fitted with digital hardware citizens registered their votes on – as well as allowing citizens to cast their votes via their own mobile phones. With a voter turnout of 36%, the entire process took seven hours from start to finish, including the time required to count votes and process the results.
CNews quotes Victoria Belikova, the chairman of Saratov’s youth elections commission, as saying that voters were also asked whether they would like to use blockchain-powered voting systems in the future, rather than use conventional paper ballots, with 83% of participants answering “yes.”
Per Vice, Kaspersky has previously claimed it has spoken to a number of “politicians and political organizations in Europe” about possibly using the Polys platform. The company also claims many European and Asian nations are “technologically and mentally ready” for internet-powered voting reform.
However, the company has stated it will not look to “push [Polys] in the United States.” Vice quoted a company official as stating, “I am a realist and I don’t want to pour salt into an open wound” – likely a reference to ongoing allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.
A number of Russian government bodies are known to been keen on exploring the idea of using blockchain technology solutions in the democratic process, with a number of companies and local authorities currently exploring their options. The topic of using blockchain-powered voting technology was discussed at a meeting held by the country’s Central Election Commission in October this year. South Korean reformers are also known to be keen on blockchain implementation as part of the democratic process.
However, some experts claim that blockchains won’t fix voting security – and could make it worse.