Blockchain & Presidential Elections (Chapter Venezuela)

By Juan Molina | Juan Molina | 29 Sep 2019


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Elections in Venezuela

Since 1998 in Venezuela, the following electoral processes have been carried out:

  • 6 Presidential.
  • 5 Parliamentarians.
  • 7 Regional.
  • 4 Municipal.
  • 6 Referendums.

The democratic character of our population is exalted with these figures.
Although not everything is as it seems.   Most of these processes have been overshadowed by the specter of unconstitutionality and fraud, calling into question the legitimacy of their authorities and representatives.   Currently the government faces the rejection of the international community in general for the presidential inauguration that will take place on January 10, 2019, where a new period of six years would begin.

CNE National Electoral Council.

It is the public power in charge of the convocation, execution and totalization of votes. Since the year 200 the CNE has an automated voting system. This system includes voting machines that are installed in the electoral centers where citizens must go to exercise their right throughout the national territory and in the corresponding embassies outside our borders. Each machine totals the suffrages corresponding to a polling station once the process in said polling station has concluded. These data are then transmitted to the centralized totalization center based in Caracas.
The software of the machines is not publicly auditable, so what actually happens there is not the domain of all Venezuelans. These machines are a kind of "black box".

"Recently, when I began to have knowledge of what the Blockchain was, the idea that my country's choices could be made on this type of platform did not take long to come to my mind."

 

It's possible?

What are the characteristics that we look for in any electoral process?

  • Make it fast.
  • That provides security and inviolability of the data.
  • Let it be distributed.
  • That maintains the confidentiality of the elector.
  • Make it transparent and auditable.

 

All these aspects give us the necessary confidence that we all need to be certain that the results correspond to the popular will.

 

"Precisely these are the characteristics of the Blockchain."

 

So, what prevents the adoption of this technology for the realization of elections?
I guess the answer is that there are too many interests in conflict.
But is it really possible to hold elections in Blockchain?

 

"The answer is a total and overwhelming YES."

 

Voting in Blockchain is an alternative to paper ballots and electronic voting machines.

Changing voting to distributed accounting books could affect voting procedures in many ways. On the one hand, it can increase the number of active voters by eliminating the need to go to a physical voting center. In addition, it could increase security and reduce fraud in the voting system, the results are available to all, although they are still anonymous.

Since the results will be in a decentralized ledger, voting itself is the only part that requires human intervention. Therefore, the counting and distribution of the results would be done through Blockchain.

 

It would be necessary to decide about Governance.

As we know, block chains are governed by consensus protocols. These rules established in Intelligent Contracts define what changes can be made in the database, who can make them, when they can be made, etc. One of the most important aspects of the consensus protocol is the rules that govern how and when the blocks are added to the chain. In this way, an unalterable time line of events must be established, which all nodes must agree on, which can not be subject to censorship.   The proposed protocol would change the paradigm in which we trust a single organization, such as a government or a company. In current electoral systems, voters must rely on the voter registration records provided by the voter organization and it is difficult, if not impossible, for a single voter to demonstrate that there is no fraud. On the other hand, when implementing Blockchain, the only work of the organization is to send a response based on the census. With the proposed system, voters have to identify their right to vote proving their authenticity. Then, by publishing both sides of the list, the voters know that the given vote is validated and auditable in a unique way.

Benefits.

Public elections are one of the bases on which representative democracy is built. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that governments and organizations can successfully hold representative, non-fraudulent elections. Current methods, especially those based on electronic platforms, provide unsatisfactory levels of transparency to voters, which undermines the trust that voters have that the votes they cast were the same as that counted by the electoral officials.   Instead of reverting to traditional and inefficient offline strategies, emerging technologies such as Blockchain should be adopted to help solve these problems of transparency and trust, contribute to the common problems of electronic voting and also promote the transparency of elections, increase audibility, improve voter confidence and, in general, strengthen democracy.

Traditional databases are maintained by a single organization, and that organization has complete control, including the ability to manipulate storage, censor valid changes to data, or aggregate data fraudulently.

The Blockchain's decentralized database is managed by a computer network where no node is responsible for storing or maintaining the database. Any computer can enter or leave this network at any time without endangering the integrity or availability of the network. Any computer can rebuild the database from scratch by downloading the blockchain and processing the audit trail.

Accessibility

With the development of applications that could run on mobile devices, voters would not have to spend hours in long queues to have their turn to participate. In the same way, people with physical limitations who could not move easily would be benefited.   Although public voting centers could also be maintained where citizens can exercise their right through voting machines. And you could even pay via email.

Security

Unlike normal servers where stored data can be hacked or manipulated, the data in a chain of blocks is kept in blocks on the computers of all network participants. Therefore, it is impossible to hack it because, to do so, you would have to hack all the machines in the network. It is also impossible to steal it because it is encrypted.

Anonymity

The anonymity of the voter is assured because the transparent algorithms would run at the top of the block chain.

Velocity

The results would be updated in real time and a panorama would be obtained without speculations on the development of the electorate's tendency.

Not everything is Positive

The scandals that overshadowed the growing success of Bitcoin and Blockchain, constitute a great propaganda barrier that can affect adoption. ICOs that promised what they never fulfilled. Indiscriminate Proliferation of altcoins. They are factors that could be used by detractors of technology or by indiscriminate politicians who do not like a transparent process.   The software developers have to act with caution. In his hands is the future implementation of this technology, since an error could tarnish the good image needed to achieve the most important thing: "trust". Certification must be achieved by official bodies such as the United States Election Assistance Commission for example.   The identification mechanisms must have high safety standards. A simple KYC process would not be enough. It is essential to incorporate another technology, which allows verifying the identity of a voter through facial recognition or other biometric devices.   The adoption of technology would also be another factor to overcome. Even in Venezuela, a large part of the population does not have access to an intelligent device. And people over 50 have a great refusal to use a computer. This would lead to assisted voting and with it, coercion.   If any malware on a voter's device alters a vote before it reaches a blockchain, the immutability of the blockchain would not provide the desired integrity.

 

 

"It seems to me that the first step to improve the elections is that the people in charge of making the change wish to have a change. Only then can well-intentioned people and passionate technologists influence the design of our future elections."

 

 

This initiative is relatively recent, but we already have enterprising companies that are taking big steps so that in the near future everything will be a reality. Here I leave you interesting links.

https://blocklr.com/blockchain/icon-blockchain-seoul-how-decentralized-voting-works/
https://www.boule.one/
https://www.agora.vote/
https://www.democracy.earth/
https://voatz.com/
https://followmyvote.com/
https://votem.com/


@juanmolina


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Juan Molina
Juan Molina

I'm passionate about everything related to Crypto and Blockchain


Juan Molina
Juan Molina

I'm passionate about everything related to Crypto and Blockchain

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