An Australian startup is planning to use blockchain technology in order to help to tackle vote-rigging in countries like Indonesia, according to us ABC News Australia.

Emerging democracies such as Indonesia, with its population of 261 million, often fall foul of voting discrepancies due to intimidation or poor calculation of paper voting over its almost 2 million km² of land.

A Melbourne-based company thinks that it has a solution which may bring an element of trust back to voters around the country after 20 years of allegations of vote rigging. The next general election in the country is to be held in nine months’ time.

The company, Horizon State, is planning to launch a test case community-voter platform on Sumatra which, if successful, will be utilized for both regional and national elections in the future. Jamie Skella, who designed the platform, explains that the new system would provide great transparency and accuracy, suggesting that a digital ballot box based on blockchain is tamper proof:

“If you utilize blockchain to submit a vote in the same way that a Bitcoin transaction can’t be reversed, it can’t be changed, it’s a trustworthy process based on a system, which is not owned by any one entity, not by an organization, or a government or an individual.”

The test project on Sumatra would allow members of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, to vote on key local decisions on the day using a digital ballot box through mobile phones.

Professor Jason Potts, director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub at Melbourne’s RMIT University, believes this would be the logical next step for countries like Indonesia and could also be very cost-effective:

“For blockchain technology, the first use case was cryptocurrencies and money, but it’s basically a record-keeping technology, whenever you want to create, establish truth, social consensus around facts.”

Professor Potts went on to explain that the greatest problem with voting in emergent democracies is that populations lose any faith over time that the process is trustworthy. With systems such as Horizon State’s proposed blockchain-backed model, the government’s role in the voting would be completely visible and free of interference.

Carla Chianese from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems worked on recent local elections and is currently preparing for the upcoming presidential election. When the idea was put to her she agreed that digital technology may have a role to play in combating voter manipulation, thereby restoring some faith among the electorate:

“I think as election practitioners, we are always looking at ways to improve the ways elections are maintained, that they are free, fair and credible,” she said.

 

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