Cue March 2018, which will go down as a landmark occasion when Sierra Leone held its first presidential election using a blockchain startup company called Agora.
The use of this kind of technology is truly a day of reckoning as it brings in a whole new stance to how elections can be carried out without the threat of fraud.
Information on blockchain exists within a database that is always being updated, and since blockchain is decentralized the information isn’t stored in a single location but rather across an entire network of nodes, who each have the exact same information.
The great thing about using blockchain technology is the fact that, to the voter's eyes it was still the same as any other of the previous elections that took place. The citizens went to the polling stations and provided the necessary documentation, and they were able to cast their votes out of 16 candidates.
When all the votes were cast, the COO of the Swiss startup Agora released a statement about how it was able to manually record the votes on its own blockchain. However, the main difference between a blockchain of this caliber and one of a cryptocurrency is that only persons who have the intended rights to validate transactions can do so. Also, once all the votes were verified by the authorized parties it meant that anyone could see the results. When we relate back to Sierra Leone and the authorized people involved in the election, the people involved were the University of Freiburg, EPFL, and Agora, as well as The Red Cross.
Could we see blockchain technology revolutionize election voting in areas where there are corruption and violence? Who knows, but Sierra Leone has an unfortunate history of violence when it comes to elections as well as government corruption, so maybe blockchain is a step in the right direction to help the country elect genuine winners. Blockchain technology will certainly make election voting a lot fairer, and Sierra Leone is the perfect testing ground for this sort of scenario.
Chief Operating Officer of Agora.
“A country like Sierra Leone can ultimately minimize a lot of the fall-out of a highly contentious election by using software like this,”
Even though the votes were still carried out on paper, Agora has plans to eventually phase out paper ballots which would mean people would have to cast a vote through the likes of software on mobile phones or computers. Not only will this make voting easier and fairer, but it will also reduce the risk of corruption during elections.