Agenda of the Study
The DID team was tasked with conducting a pilot study to see how the Blockchain can be implemented to provide an immutable record of:
1. An ID (Polling card)
2. Usage of that ID (Voting).
In addition, the NEC (National Electoral Commission) was kind enough to allow us to recount the votes at a polling station on the Blockchain to provide an immutable record of the votes.
The objective of the pilot study was to see the viability of Blockchain technologies in the background of an Election. Officials were briefed about the Blockchain technology and how it can be further implemented in the country to drive accountability and digital record-keeping.
On the ground
Election Date: 7th March, 2018
With a staff of 8 people on the ground, the pilot comprised of DID team arranging technologists and implementers from the UK, Australia, Sierra Leone and the US to be present at the time of elections in the polling stations and to see how the technological revolution pans out.
With full accreditation from the NEC, we were allotted two polling stations with un-restricted access (within the bounds of the Electoral law) to check, verify and re-count votes on the Blockchain. In addition, our team was able to simulate a final result count of the Elections on the Blockchain.
Several meetings, interviews and presentations were also carried out by the team before and after the elections with various stakeholders including a multitude of influencers, students, officials and monitoring staff to better understand the technology behind DID and the blockchain.
As independent observers: The DID team recounted votes at Great Hall, Milton Margai, Goderich near FreeTown. The results were published on the Blockchain and were presented to NEC officials.
As Blockchain Technologists: A complete Polling Card issuance system coupled with a Voting mechanism was tested, implemented and handed over to the NEC officials. The team made significant and practical findings around future implementations and the limitations of the technology.
Blockchain issued IDs are secure: Once issued, Blockchain-based IDs are immutable records that can be tailored to specific requirements, such as allowing each user to vote only once.
Blockchain counted results are immutable: Recording and counting votes on the Blockchain provided an immutable and a secure record-keeping mechanism that could be publicly verified and could not be tampered with.
Implementation & knowledge curve: The issuance of Blockchain-based IDs nation-wide requires strong implementation processes with the help of governmental agencies on the ground and the length of such a project will depend on strong cooperation with local officials.
A happy & impressed Govt authority: The NEC and officials met by the DID team on the ground were highly impressed by the pilot. In addition, DID has been in talks with the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) to issue Driving licenses on its platform. The team was also able to showcase their technology to officials from Uganda and Niger. Both of the countries are interested in running similar studies and DID is in talks with the respective authorities.