Larger Africa still bleeds due to lack of transparency and fairness in its election processes. Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa, like other African countries is yet to heal. It’s actually healing, thanks to blockchain technology by Agora, a Swiss startup.
Why you didn’t hear many reports of post-election violence in Sierra Leone’s just-concluded 2018 presidential polls was because of the blockchain technology.
So, how different is the technology from the conventional voting technologies? Speaking to coindesk, Agora’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Lukasiewicz Jaron elaborated on the efficiency of blockchain processes, “blockchain produced results two hours faster than election officials.” When voting the citizens cast their vote normally after showing their IDs at the polling station. The processes change after voting to manual recording of votes on a permissioned blockchain. On the permissioned blockchain the votes are only validated and managed by authorized authorities in this case; Agora, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Red Cross and Freiburg University. Moreover, the votes once managed and posted by the authorized groups could be viewed by voters, candidates and interested parties more like in a public blockchain that support bitcoin cryptocurrencies.
The technology came as a relief for the small country that has been grappling grand corruption, acting as a testing ground for the blockchain technology that powered a free and fair election.
Lukasiewicz believes that “countries like Sierra Leone, with very contentious elections having attracted 16 presidential candidates in the just concluded polls should utilize such software to minimize extensive fall-out.”
Agora envisages voting on voters’ personal electronic devices to replace the use of paper ballots. This vision, they strive to achieve purposefully to cut down elections costs, minimize potential fraud around election procurement processes and increase voter accessibility. Ultimately the blockchain technology is to deliver fair elections, foster democracy and minimize violence associated with election tallying. For Agora, Sierra Leone is just but the starting ground!