The irony is so thick you’d think it was made from ballistic jelly. But, that’s exactly what’s needed to contain this shot across the election-tampering bow the Russians just pulled off.
According to Coindesk, the city of Moscow is unveiling an Ethereum-based version of its voting system called Active Citizen. By putting the votes on the blockchain, as long as the code is solid, then the results cannot be disputed.
This is one of the major promises of the trustless systems the crypto-community has been clamoring about for nearly a decade now. From the moment I heard about Ethereum and smart contracts, the first application that popped into my head was voting.
Votes need to be on the blockchain.
Nothing in our current society is more important than removing the spectre of corruption from our elections. While I personally think voting is a complete waste of time (Don’t Vote! It only encourages them, is my motto) the reality is a tremendous amount of power is commanded through the siren’s call of the democratic mandate voting confers on a society.
So, it only makes to create a voting system in capable of being hacked.
I can almost hear the screams of terror from the Democratic party in the U.S. as I type those words.
They know they’ll never win a national or state-wide election again without ballot stuffing, voter bussing and illegal immigrants voting multiple times.
So, the next words you’ll hear from them regarding any kind of blockchain-based voting system is “All poll taxes are racist.”
Active vote has been around a while as an Oracle-based system. For the Ethereum-based system Moscow is starting small …
…allowing residents to cast votes for measures ranging from the name of their new metro train to the color of the seats in a new sports arena. But in an effort to soothe people’s concerns over whether to trust the city in its vote counting, it’s added a private version of the ethereum blockchain to that project’s architecture.
“Of course, sometimes we hear that not all the votes are trusted,” said Andrey Belozerov, the strategy and innovations advisor to the city’s CIO. “So, we decided to use a blockchain for the Active Citizen project, as a platform of electronic trust.”
The ethereum-based platform, which allows anyone to audit the open-source results, has been downloaded by more than 100 node operators since its December launch.
There are concerns, rightly, about scaling and clearing enough transactions in a reasonable amount of time. So, it is best to test this system on inconsequential votes like the colors of seats on the Moscow Metro.
The Real Message
But, make no mistake, the message here is clear. Russia is moving towards a transparent, functioning democratic system. These small matters are simply beta-tests for wider adoption of this technology over time.
The first real milestone should be a local election with the final goal being national elections.
While trust in government institutions in the West is falling at an alarming rate, the evil, corrupt Russians led by chief Mafioso Vladimir Putin are acting to add faith in their system.
Democracy in Russia is just over a generation old but the corruption left behind by the implosion of the Soviet Union and subsequent pillaging by the West under Yeltsin is still very much a problem.
That this announcement comes during the hysteria surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of thirteen Russian individuals and groups for the crime of being ‘internet trolls’ makes makes Mueller look even more of the useful idiot for anti-democratic forces than he already does.
Mueller’s witch hunt for Russian bogeymen is the exact wrong way to restore faith in these systems. All it’s doing is further alienating voters from the process. The message from him and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last Friday was clear.
“You are too stupid to have voted for Donald Trump honestly. We uncovered the truth that your perceptions were clouded by a bunch of Russian trolls looking for some cheap Google AdWords money.”
I guess that stuff plays on the D.C. cocktail party circuit and college campuses, but it doesn’t play pretty much anywhere else.
And it’s the deadly seriousness with which these people drone on about the ‘sanctity of our elections’ that is the most ironic.
So, while the entrenched powers in D.C. still stamp their feet and complain about an election outcome they didn’t like, Russia is moving to ensure one of Josef Stalin’s most oft-quoted maxims is no longer applicable to theirs.
“Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.”
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I agree with your perspective “Don’t vote, it only encourages them”.
I don’t claim to know a lot about blockchain, but from what little knowledge I have I see a potential problem: It is true a blockchain vote would be “auditable”. I presume a “voter” has an ID and they can check that the blockchain correctly records their vote . . . but it seems like it would also enable someone else to verify what their vote was.
With a secret paper ballot, no one knows how you voted.
With a blockchain vote, someone could offer you cash for a vote, a person can give their blockchain address/ID to the “payer” and the payer could verify what the vote was before making the payment.
So, it seems blockchain voting opens the door to selling votes moreso than a secret paper ballot.
The contents of the vote can remain secret, depending on how the vote is recorded. All that needs to be done is have the voter ID audit happen off-chain and the results put on-chain to ensure the identity chain is broken.
We’re clever enough monkeys to make that work.
That said, it is a concern.
I was looking through older articles last night and ran across this article on elections using blockchain technology in Russia. Has there been any followup or more information on this? Last year I read somewhere about the US Post Office having a patent on blockchain election technology, but haven’t seen anything on it since either.
Yes . They’ve been pilot programming the use of blockchain in Moscow local elections. You can bet Putin will have something like that in place for the 2024 elections. Good question!
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