Sierra Leona has become the first country in the world to use block-chain technology in conducting presidential elections.
Agora, a Swiss foundation offering digital voting solutions, manually recorded the votes cast in the Western District, the most populous in the country, using the technology, to ensure transparency in the voting process.
Unlike public blockchains that support cryptocurrencies, the voting process used permissioned blockchains that allow only authorized persons to validate transactions. In Sierra Leone, the authorised ones included people from Agora, the Red Cross, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Freiburg.
But the permissioned blockchain, like a public blockchain, allows anyone to view and verify the results. This is expected to help ensure legitimacy elections in states such as the west-African country where voting is prone to manipulation.
See the West District results of Sierra Leone’s presidential election on Agora’s #blockchain at https://t.co/CzxPEZE8cj. Publicly available days before the end of manual counting. #votesalone #ico #vote
— Agora (@AgoraBlockchain) March 9, 2018
“While many countries are falling back to paper ballots as an alternative to what may be potentially insecure Electronic Voting Machines, future voters will ultimately demand a trustworthy digital voting system. Blockchain offers functionality that we believe can make digital voting successful where prior technologies have failed,” Agora says in a blog.
Sixteen candidates are contesting in the elections that would find a successor to Ernest Bai Koroma who is leaving the office. Thy includes ruling party’s Samura Kamara, the erstwhile foreign minister, and Julius Maada Bio, former military head of state and candidate of the main opposition party.
While a candidate needs 55% vote to win, preliminary results suggested that a run-off is likely between Bio and Kamara.