According to a report from BBC News, Moscow is piloting a project to utilize blockchain as part of its Active Citizen e-voting program.
In a move that could revolutionize even conventional voting systems, this particular project will focus on Moscow’s city management decisions.
Not playing for chump change
The decision to test the project in a city like Moscow is a bold one since it will not be a small-scale venture: the Active Citizen program currently holds 1.9 million users with around 2800 polls recorded to date since its launch in 2014. The most popular polls have recorded up to 0.5 million votes at a time.
However, the boldness comes with its own perks, as this will make Moscow become the first ever city that has implemented blockchain-based e-voting, especially on such a capacity.
Ensuring transparency, availability, and voter trust
Through blockchain, every vote in Active Citizen will become a smart contract which is publicly viewable and transparent. Once the vote is placed, it will be listed in a ledger consisting of all votes recorded across a peer-to-peer network. It will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote was cast, so there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.
The distributed ledger technology (DLT) that will be at work here will allow real-time synchronization of data, which will then be available on a peer-to-peer network. It also negates any chances of fraudulent activity with the voting statistics. The security provided with the system will only enhance citizens’ trust in the program, which is one of the things that the city officials hope to achieve from this venture.
The CIO of Moscow, Artem Ermolaev, took the time to describe the city government’s intentions and goals behind the process:
“We are excited to improve credibility and transparency of e-voting system in Moscow by introducing blockchain. We believe that blockchain will increase trust between the citizens and the government. We aim to hit 2 mln users in the near future who are ready to influence the city life.”
BLOCKCHAIN: It may sound complex, but Its usage is easy
It was also explained that the registration process for this new system will be easy to follow. The citizens can go through a detailed instruction manual and install the software. The software itself allows users to become part of the peer-to-peer system through which the voting ledger will be maintained in real time.
The conventional program is still retained as Plan B
Since implementing the program on such a large scale is not an easy task to achieve, the city officials have also retained the old voting program for Active Citizen while the new e-voting system takes its time to be established.
This is a prudent decision because while blockchain is reliable, getting every citizen to understand the new voting program will pose its own challenges.
This decision requires the votes to be recorded from the app itself and from the website as its own method, which is then updated to the old server and to the blockchain as well.
This shows that city officials are ready to face possible challenges that come with the implementation of the new program. At any cost, it is a reassurance that the program will not be abandoned in the middle of work, and they are serious for its success and will persevere, seeking to ensure that it is understandable and easy to use for the citizens of Moscow.
POLITICAL VOTING USING BLOCKCHAIN
While Active Citizen is a non-political voting system that focuses on the betterment of the city with plans ranging from public transport to the availability of free WiFi in public spots, it is just a matter of time before the initiative transcends to mainstream voting – which of course will depend on the level of success of this particular program and the challenges that come with it.
Whether the project wins big or just wins, (as it doesn’t seem like there could be a failure from a technology as secure and as up to date as blockchain) one thing remains certain: it will open doors to explore the usage of blockchain in voting on a larger scale. Who knows, the next election that you might participate in could very well be on a blockchain-based program.