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Moscow introduces blockchain e-voting

Muscovites will be able to count the votes and verify the authenticity of results in real-time

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Citizens used the Active Citizen e-voting system to name Zaryadye Park. Picture: Mos.ru
Citizens used the Active Citizen e-voting system to name Zaryadye Park. Picture: Mos.ru

Moscow has announced a pilot project to implement blockchain in its electronic voting system based on Ethereum smart contracts platform.

 

Local government authorities of the Russian capital claim it will be the first city in the world to implement blockchain in e-voting on such a large scale.

 

One of the key goals of the Active Citizen e-voting pilot is to discover what the limitations of the technology will be.

 

Since the introduction of Moscow’s Active Citizen platform, which allows citizens to influence city management decisions and its urban transformation, in 2014, 1.9 million citizens have used it, around 2,800 polls have been conducted and more than 87.2 million opinions gathered. During peak load times users can cast approximately 1,000 votes per minute.

 

According to Moscow’s authorities, the blockchain-based election system will bring remarkable change to the city’s digital voting process. Prior to implementation of blockchain, the votes were listed on Active Citizen server and users could examine the results through the website announcements only.

 

By downloading the installation manual and installing the software, every citizen will become a node of a peer-to-peer network and will be able to record and store the database of votes. Moreover, Muscovites will be able to count the votes and verify the authenticity of results in real-time.

 

“We are excited to improve credibility and transparency of e-voting system in Moscow by introducing blockchain. We believe that blockhain will increase trust between the citizens and the government,” said Artem Ermolaev, CIO of Moscow. “We aim to hit two million users in the near future who are ready to influence the city life.”

 

Through blockchain, every vote in Active Citizen will become a smart contract which is publicly viewable and transparent. Once the vote is placed, it will be listed in a ledger consisting of all votes taken place across a peer-to-peer network. It will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote was casted so there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.

 

Taking into account the challenges of implementation of blockchain on this scale, the authorities have chosen to launch blockchain while preserving the existing architecture of Active Citizen platform.

 

Votes are recorded from the app and website to the server, and then simultaneously to the standard relational database and the blockchain network. While piloting the project with massive amounts of data, authorities aim to test several aspects: failure reliability, resilience to updates, speed of data processing, and correct synchronisation of nodes.

 

If the system works effectively, Moscow authorities plan to store the entire data with blockchain technology and to replicate it to other IT projects in Moscow. Blockchain is expected to lead to improvement of information security and transparency along with reducing administrative costs for Moscow’s government

 

Muscovites have used Active Citizen to determine new public transport routes as well as to decide city centre speed limits. Other examples of Active Citizen polls are: construction and further expansion of bike lanes; expansion of pedestrian zones; free wi-fi available in metro and parks; dance courses and music bands playing in the parks.

 

Citizens have also voted for the name of a new high-tech subway train, as well as decide on the logo and name for Zaryadye park.

 

One of the largest polls was held for the “My Street” redevelopment project. More than 500,000 citizens voted on the specific urban and landscape design to be created, what trees would be planted, new public transport routes, and the order in which streets would be renovated and materials used.

 

 

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