Sierra Leone debunks the ‘world’s first blockchain election’ record

March 22, 2018 at 07:18 am | Tech & Innovation

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

March 22, 2018 at 07:18 am | Tech & Innovation

Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission has dismissed widely published reports saying it used blockchain technology during its March 7 general election to tally votes.

The NEC said last Sunday in a tweet that “it has not used, and is not using #blockchain #technology in any part of the electoral process.”

This debunks the statement of Swiss blockchain startup company Agora which said it was allowed by the NEC to use its blockchain technology to verify votes in parts of the capital Freetown.

“Voters complete their votes on paper ballots and then our team with impartial observers register them on the blockchain,” Agora’s COO, Jaron Lukasiewicz told bitcoin news site CoinDesk during the election on March 7.

Agora’s CEO Leonardo Gammar, who was also reported to have been in Sierra Leone to manage the “operation” was also quoted by CoinDesk saying the election in the West African country was the “beginning of a much larger blockchain voting movement.”

The technology was reported to have tracked all the results in real time and then relayed the data to the electoral commission and other agents of the political parties for verification.

The NEC has not given further clarifications to the matter, however, Agora released a statement on Monday with evidence showing that it was accredited by the NEC as an international observer.

“Official election results only come from the NEC. This is stated on Agora’s election results page and in all interviews … Agora was accredited to cover 280 polling locations in the West Districts of Sierra Leone. A partial deployment of our technology was used in the election,” they said.

“Agora’s results are very close to the ones published by the NEC for the same area … Agora’s results were published on our website 5 days before the end of the official manual count carried out by the NEC,” they added.

Agora made its goal clear, which is “to have this election demonstrate our capabilities and open the door for further cooperation with the NEC in the future.”

This leaves one question unanswered: Is Sierra Leone the world’s first country to utilize blockchain technology in an election?

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