Brazilian legislators consider blockchain for electoral system overhaul

Janica San Juan 9 January 2018 NEWS


Electronic petitions could solve the problem of governing 124 million people.

The Brazilian government is looking to blockchain technology to solve electoral inefficiencies in popular petitions and referenda. The legislation plans to adopt the smart contract function on the Ethereum platform to eliminate vote manipulation and simplify the voting process.

The pioneers behind the project include local congress consultant Ricardo Fernandes Paixao and university professor and Ethereum Foundation programmer Everton Fraga. Their objective is to have electoral votes written on the blockchain to ensure they can't be altered.

The root cause of electoral malfunction in Brazil is its massive population. The country has more than 145 million eligible voters. This in itself is a structural and logistical nightmare.

It's quite costly for the country's residents to participate in these frequent processes, and it's time-consuming and inconvenient to the public. At the same time, it makes the existing system particularly vulnerable to fraudulent activity.

Major political decisions in Brazil are made based on popular petitions. The law behind this requires that any petition that gets up to 1% of the public's vote should get a hearing in congress.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to implement this system because there is no institution tasked with handling the petition votes. This forces petitioning groups to look for a legislator to adopt the petition.

Political analysts have frequently questioned the relevance of the process. Some even go as far as to attribute the country's political problems to the existing electoral structure. This has cast a shadow on the electoral legitimacy of enacted laws. The process also does not guarantee security for the signatures collected on petitions.

The proposed Brazilian electoral system will operate like any other decentralised app on the Ethereum blockchain. The app will incorporate its own virtual token that will be used to process individual votes on the network.

It will function on a decentralised app (dapp) that will allow voters to use their smartphone to participate in votes. While this would allow widespread access, it would be costly to broadcast each individual signature as an independent transaction.

The system will therefore use hashing to sum up all daily votes into a single entry. This entry will then be posted as one transaction and broadcast to the network.

This will ensure that all votes cast are encrypted and permanently stored on the blockchain. The data should therefore remain free from alteration and manipulation.

The idea is yet to pass congress and get implemented. According to Fraga, the proposed blockchain integration into the currently inefficient electoral system would be a major victory for democracy.

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