Moscow introduces blockchain e-voting to overhaul smart-city plans

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The Moscow local government is looking to implement an often-discussed idea: an e-voting system built on blockchain.

While many issues have been raised (particularly in Ireland) surrounding e-voting and the potential for corruption or data security issues, the local government of Moscow is to plough ahead and test a new e-voting system built on blockchain.

Since 2014, the Active Citizen project has enabled almost 2m Muscovites to influence city management decisions and urban planning, but now it plans to overhaul the older online system by trialling blockchain e-voting.

As outlined before on Siliconrepublic.com, blockchain e-voting means a person’s vote would be timestamped with details of their last vote thanks to the encrypted algorithm, while an illegitimate one would be spotted more easily by a digital system, or even those within digital-savvy communities.

Moscow city officials claimed this would make it the first city in the world to implement blockchain in e-voting on such a large scale, but countries such as Estonia have already trialled blockchain-based e-voting for various state services.

Until now, the Active Citizen project and users could only receive election results through the website.

When every citizen becomes a node on the blockchain, however, Muscovites will be able to count the votes up and verify the authenticity of results in real time, thanks to its ability to create smart contracts.

Aims for 2m users

The Moscow government said that every vote in Active Citizen will become a smart contract, which is “publicly viewable and transparent” but just shows that the person has voted.

Once the vote is placed, it will be listed in a ledger consisting of all votes cast across a peer-to-peer network.

It said this will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote is made, meaning there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.

“We are excited to improve credibility and transparency of [the] e-voting system in Moscow by introducing blockchain,” said Artem Ermolaev, Moscow’s CIO.

“We believe that blockchain will increase trust between the citizens and the government. We aim to hit 2m users in the near future who are ready to influence the city life.”

If all goes well, Moscow will replicate it on other IT projects in the city.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com