Kyrgyzstan blockchain voting
Politics,  Technology

Krygyzstan leader plans blockchain voting for re-do parliamentary elections

With disputed elections behind three revolts, the volatile nation’s acting president wants to partially replace its central election commission with a blockchain system

Kyrgyzstan’s acting president and prime minister Sadyr Japarov announced plans to use blockchain technology for the volatile nation’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

According to a Nov. 12 report by local News Agency 24, Japarov said during a press conference that a blockchain system will partially replace Kyrgyzstan’s central election commission. It’s most recent election was annulled last month after protests over vote rigging.

Japarov explained that the nation saw three revolutions start because of elections, so such events must be transparent and the government has to learn a lesson from this and provide accountability:

“If there are facts of use of administrative resources or bribery of voters, they should be published in the media or on social media. We will check and punish. Perhaps, if the blockchain system is successfully implemented, then the next parliamentary elections will be held using this technology. There will be no falsification.”

Japarov’s remarks follow late October reports that he suggested using blockchain technology to ensure the fairness of the elections during an interview. At the time, he also said that Kyrgyzstan “had three revolutions because of unfair elections” and suggested that the nation needs a change:

“If this continues, the unrest and the revolutions will continue. From now on, everything will be fair. I consulted with the Central Election Commission and offered them to introduce blockchain technology. This system can be implemented in 3-6 months.”

Japarov also claimed at the time that the “elections will be fair when the head of state will order it” and claimed that the government has “no intention to conduct unfair elections using bribery.” Furthermore, he promised that those who commit election fraud will be detained, as the law punishes vote-buying and selling with a 2.5 year prison sentence.

Many blockchain proponents insist that distributed ledger technology could help ensure fair elections, but this is still a much-debated subject. As Modern Consensus reported in early September, vice chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Jeremy Epstein argues that blockchain voting has some serious problems, starting with the ability of hackers—or governments—to use malware to control voting apps. He concluded:

“Computer security experts almost universally agree that paper and pencil is the right way to do it. It’s what’s used in most of the world. It is not perfect, there are chain of custody issues, various other issues… but by and large it’s a much better solution than any of the others.”

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.