Crypto Valley’s Zug has become the first local in the world to hold a non-binding blockchain based citizens’ vote which began on June 25th and will continue until July the 1st.
The pilot asks Zug’s citizens to vote on light matters such as whether there should be fireworks at the yearly town festival with the aim of seeing how blockchain voting would work in real life settings.
The project is developed in collaboration with Luxoft, an international tech firm that has built a permissioned blockchain which runs on Hyperledger. They say:
“Luxoft built the permissioned blockchain based solution e-Vote, including the platform itself, software and algorithms on Hyperledger Fabric.
This was then integrated with Zug’s Ethereum-based digital ID registration application, enabled by uPort, to allow residents to cast votes on the blockchain.
The solution uses an innovative encryption technology that on one hand anonymizes the votes and on the other hand allows tamper-proof tally and secure audit.
With help from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, AWS and n’cloud.swiss, the platform is deployed on three different data centers in the cloud: two in Switzerland and one in Ireland.
By distributing the data into three different data centers, security and data loss risks are distributed geographically, making the system more robust.
What’s more, the platform can permanently delete voting data within an agreed time, in accordance with Swiss law.”
How any of this works at a technical level we could not easily find, but Luxoft says they will open source the blockchain voting system.
Currently they have a number of projects on their github, including a few related to Hyperledger’s Fabric, but we could not find one related to voting.
“There is a concern with e-voting as it is a fundamental mechanism for direct democracy,” Vasily Suvorov, Chief Technology Officer at Luxoft, said before adding:
“As a result, we believe this technology cannot be owned by a single company. We will make the e-voting platform open source so people can understand what makes up the technology and how it works, ensuring full transparency.
Looking ahead, our alliance will encourage more people to develop blockchain-based applications for Governments worldwide.”
They’ve launched a Blockchain for Government Alliance to encourage the use of blockchain tech in public services with this voting trial so being the first step in that direction.
From an end-users’ perspective it all seems to be fairly straight forward. You first need to get a blockchain ID from Uport which is then authenticated in person at the local council offices. You then log into the dapp and vote on local matters.
The results should be interesting, especially once it is all open sourced, with Zug’s mayor Dolfi Müller stating that, if the trial is successful:
“Who knows, in five or ten years’ time blockchain may be used for votes. Not everyone has faith in blockchain, or even e-voting, but I personally believe in its potential.”