New technologies applied to elections: a way to appease the process

Blockchain technology is currently in vogue for its characteristics that coincide with the ideal sought in the dematerialized universe. Its features are of interest to various sectors and may represent an opportunity for states to seize, especially in the area of ​​voting.

This technology could give more weight to electronic voting for transparent and secure elections around the world and especially in Africa.

In the countries that have chosen democracy as their political system, the vote is the pre-eminent means of expressing the will. Voting is defined by the political dictionary “La Toupie” as: “The expression of an opinion, a will or a choice during a deliberation within a political body, an electoral college, a deliberative assembly, etc., with a view to an election or a referendum”.

Voting, as traditionally held, has changed with the advent of ICT in the electoral field. It is indeed important to note that information and communication technologies have intervened in the field of voting with the introduction of electronic voting.

Electronic voting is a dematerialized voting system. With automated counting (particularly of ballot papers) and with the aid of computer systems.

It has plenty of advantages over traditional voting, especially legitimate elections. Thanks to the reduction of errors related to paper support. Almost instant results once the vote is closed and confidentiality, secrecy of the vote and a significant reduction in costs.

However, it should be noted that it has drawbacks and not the least. After all, electronic voting makes it possible to technically associate the voter’s identity with the nature of his vote using computer resources. Also, nothing proves that the software approved for the vote is not infected with viruses.

All these concerns cast doubt on individuals’ confidence in the use of electronic voting.

The question naturally arises as to how the confidence of individuals in electronic voting through technology can be ensured. Since the use of traditional voting is in no way a guarantee of trust and would even be a step backwards in a world heavily dominated by technology.

In other words, what technological solution could guarantee confidence in the use of electronic voting?

On such a question, we prefer Blockchain technology without however claiming that it is the only technology that can help electronic voting. It should already be mentioned that the choice of this technology was made in view of its characteristics. But what is Blockchain?

The Blockchain (the translation into French is chaine de bloc) is a technology that allows information to be stored and transmitted in a transparent and secure manner and without a central control body. It looks like a big database that contains the history of all the exchanges between the users since its creation.

It can be used for the transfer of assets (currency, securities, shares, etc.), the traceability of assets and products and to execute automatic contracts (smart contracts). Its ability to intervene in different areas and its characteristics make it quite a popular technology in the dematerialized world.

This article will therefore try to mention the positive impact this technology could have had with electronic voting. However, without going into purely technical demonstrations. Some African countries have this experience.

Sierra Leone Used Blockchain to Monitor Elections

In the recent presidential election in Sierra Leone, 16 candidates participated including two women. Voters voted in a peaceful atmosphere. But at the same time, a Blockchain startup called Agora tracked the election process through its registration. This is unprecedented on the African continent. Indeed, the startup used a private and authorized Blockchain inspired by the technology that supports the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Agora’s aim was to monitor the results of these elections in Sierra Leone in real time. “It was great to play a role in helping the citizens of Sierra Leone exercise their democratic rights and help their country maintain a transparent democracy,” said Leonardo Gammar, CEO of Agora .

Securing the results

Agora passed its data on to those responsible for overseeing and verifying the nation’s democratic process. However, for Agora, the election could be the first step in an even bigger plan to launch a more decentralized version of its technology. The Swiss startup said it is in contact with other countries interested in using this technology during their elections. “I strongly believe that this election is the start of a much larger Blockchain voting movement,” said Leonardo Gammar.

For Jaron Lukasiewicz, Chief Operating Officer of Agora, using this technology makes it possible to prevent election fraud and disputes that could jeopardize reconciliation in the country. “Voters fill out their paper ballots and our team of unbiased observers registers them on the Blockchain,” explains Jaron Lukasiewicz. Before justifying, “A country like Sierra Leone can ultimately minimize much of the impact of a highly controversial election by using software like this.”

Bernardin Sebahir

Researcher at ISDR/Bukavu