A Switzerland-based startup employed blockchain to help track the Sierra Leone presidential poll held on Wednesday, apparently the first time in the world that the technology underlying cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin was used in an election.
The voting technology company Agora, which describes itself as a Swiss lab and foundation for digital democracy, announced the move on Twitter on Thursday.
The blockchain delivered results two hours before the official count, Agora announced on Twitter.
“This is the first time in history that blockchain has been used in government elections,” the company said.
Formed in 2015, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based foundation claims that it provides a blockchain-based end-to-end verifiable digital voting solution of the same name for governments and institutions to ensure transparency in the election process.
The blockchain news website Coindesk reported that Agora used a private, permissioned blockchain which it calls “skipchain” to track the Sierra Leone presidential poll. This is the first time that “skipchain” was tested in a live election.
A permissioned blockchain can restrict participation in the mechanism of the blockchain, whereby certain actions can be performed only by certain addresses.
The Agora team relayed the election data to individual overseeing the process, the Coindesk report said.
Agora is planning to launch a more decentralized version of its voting solution and claims that more countries have expressed interest in deploying it in elections, Coindesk added.
Ravaged by natural disasters, the Ebola virus and a civil war, Sierra Leoneans went to polls with high hopes to choose a strong leader who can lead the country through such miseries.
Sixteen candidates contested the election held in one of the poorest countries of the world, which ironically has abundant natural resources. Maternal and infant mortality as well as youth mortality rates of the country are among the highest in the world.
The main contest was between Samura Kamara of the governing All People’s Congress party and Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, a former UN official, and Julius Maada Bio, who was previously the leader of the military junta that ruled the country after a 1996 coup.