The First Blockchain-Backed Presidential Election Took Place in Sierra Leone


On March 7, 2018 the world's first blockchain-backed presidential vote took place in Sierra Leone. As election looms improved, a Swiss blockchain startup, Agora, was working hard behind the scenes to help process and tally the results using blockchain technology.

In this particular election, Agora utilized a custom permissioned blockchain technology that it has built over the last couple of years. According to Monax, permissioned blockchain networks permit the network to appoint a group of participants in the network that are given the express authority to provide the validation of blocks of transactions or to participate in consensus.

For Agora and Sierra Leone officials, that meant that the secure transfer of data into a verifiable blockchain ledger, where independent node operators including the Red Cross, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the University of Fribourg managed to tally and verify each ballot and the election results. Leo Gammar, the CEO of Agora, told CCN «I am grateful to Sierra Leone for showing the world how visionary they are in bringing clear and free elections to their people.»

For Sierra Leone, this election was particularly notable, as it was also the first time in the nation's history that more than two candidates had a significant prospect of winning, creating the possibility for a more diversified parliament. Historically since 1961 the ruling All People's Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) have dominated the country's parliament.

This event marks a significant first step towards improving the democratic process in countries historically impacted by corruption and fraud with paper ballots. While still early, the implications of blockchain voting could be transformative to democracies across the world. Blockchain technology improves upon previous electronic voting systems by ensuring transparency, security and voter anonymity.

Based on Jaron Lukasiewicz, Agora's COO, additional advantages of using a blockchain voting system versus paper ballots include reduced costs, the elimination of human error and faster public access to election results. He explained, «All elections in the future will utilize blockchain voting systems. „