The very basis of Governance starts from electing a Govt in Democracy. By principles, it says you all have your say in choosing a Govt. While that may sound sacrosanct in its first place, it may not be that simple in reality when we elect a Govt.
There has been a social distrust as far as the Democratic process & electoral system is concerned and this is true for the entire democratic world. The political distrust from the citizens' perspective needs to be evaluated and should be gauged upon with a transparent, fair, equitable, effective, scalable electoral system.
The existing electoral system should leverage technology like Blockchain to make it fair, transparent & acceptable for all to make sure that public desires are fulfilled. Blockchain technology complies with democratic principles fundamentally.
In the ongoing week of #steemcryptochallenge, I have already published Part 1 & Part 2 of The Future of Cryptocurrency. Today's publication will deliberate on how Blockchain technology can bring the much needed Electoral Reform for the Democratic World.
Remodelling Democracy with Blockchain technology
You should have a say in choosing a Government, but technology must also be at your disposal to make it easy for you, make it one-click for you, sitting at the comfort of your home.
Existing Problem Interface
1. Participation Rate
To strengthen the democracy of a democratic world, we also need a better participation rate, otherwise, the elected representatives will not be a true representation of the process & the people.
With technological evolution & rapid transformation of the processes and system in exercising democracy, it is expected to witness a better participation rate at least better than the pre-industrial era. But that has not been the case as per the data. The voter turnout all-across the democratic states has been constantly vanishing.
The same has been the trend in developing countries as well.
Another important point to note is that our vote is not mobile, it is homebound because we can only vote in that polling station where we primarily belong, does not matter whether we are participating in National Election, or State Election, or Local Election. That is where the majority of the voter turnout diminishes.
For livelihood, migrant workers have to travel to a different state, and at the time of voting, it is very difficult for them to return to their locality and cast a vote. As that will incur travel cost, time, and other inconveniences. The cost-benefit analysis does not attract such voters to return to their native place and participate in the democratic processes. As a result, the voter turnout diminishes.
In a country like India, the seasonal and temporary migrant population is as high as 400 million.
In the 21st century, we can't expect the people to stand in a long queue to cast a vote and participate in democracy. In particular, it will not attract the youth.
The eligibility to vote and participate in democracy is set at 18 years. But the kind of maturation at 18, understanding the democracy, making a wise political choice may not bode well with an age like 18, we don't have any such provision to delegate the voting power either. That also adds to the lower voter-turnout to some extent.
2. Less/No Accountability
The election generally happens every 4/5 years. The voters who have elected a representative have very little margin to hold him accountable for the role/job he has undertaken.
The failure of political representation on breaking promises also adds to social & political distrust.
Further, in the existing setup, the only way to hold an elected representative accountable is through the next voting, next election. Considering a span of 5 years is too much for the voters to remember the events, and the politicians often find an easy escape.
3. Lack of reliable mechanism to validate the Electoral process
In mass elections where millions participate to elect Prime Ministers or Presidents, it is necessary to have a standard reliable mechanism to validate the electoral process and must ensure the legitimacy of the system, in a way that is acceptable for all.
Be it Paper Ballot or Electronic Voting Machine, we have had reports of inconsistencies, tampering, and irregularities in the counting of votes which raises many eyebrows on the authority as well as the mechanism that is in place. It is not limited to any one country, not even limited to a discourse of ruling/opposition parties. It is a matter of grave concern for all, particularly when technology is advancing at a faster rate. We still have this grey area.
Even though the political culture of one country differs from the other, which also includes micro-variants, many other things empirical to the geography, it is the lack of a reliable mechanism that undermines democracy all across the globe.
4. Democracy(without provision of Delegating influence) is a "number game" only, counter-productive to democracy
Just imagine an exercise of democracy in a group of 100 people, out of which 90 people happen to be thieves or malicious elements, and the rest 10 are honest and wise people. In a fair & equitable democracy, each one will cast one vote and the majority will rule the Govt. So, in this case, malicious power will rule the Govt.
Take another example, there are 100 people, out of which 70 happen to have attained 18 years of age recently, just entered adulthood, eligible for voting. The remaining 30 are intellectuals & are matured enough as adults, their understanding of political engagement is better, they know the issues of society better. So their intelligence is better than the majority (70) who have just become eligible to vote. But with this equation, the inexperienced, naive will be voted to power. So even though it goes through the democratic process, the democratic objective will not be achieved.
The existing democratic processes and systems do not have provisions to use the intellectual mind, because one does not have the power to delegate his influence to an intellectual who can make a better decision(on behalf of the naive voter) in choosing a better Govt. Just imagine if there is a provision of "delegation", then the naive voters will delegate their influence power to the intellectuals to elect the right candidate. With that, both the democratic process & democratic objective will be fulfilled.
Blockchain technology, Governance coin as a solution
Let's remodel and re-design the democratic processes with Blockchain technology.
The authorities first issue the Voter Card or similar identity verification to the respective voters who are eligible for voting. In the first place, the Election Commission has the number of voters who are eligible to vote in this election year.
Then a ledger powered with Blockchain technology can be enabled to store the data and issue the Governance coin. An algorithm can be created to mint the Governance coin equivalent to the number of eligible voters for the Election year.
- The Governance coin does not have any monetary value.
- The Governance Coin can not be transferred.
- The Governance coin can be used once in the Election year to cast vote.
- The influence of the Governance coin is time-limited (until the next election).
- The Governance coin can be delegated to another voter.
The vote with this system in place should be mobile, and with multiple options:-
- By visiting the polling station
- By voting with Smartphone sitting at home
Decentralized applications should be deployed on top of Blockchain technology to enable voters casting vote with a Smartphone.
Generally, a voter visits the polling station, produces the voter identity card, and then cast his vote, receives the VVPAT(Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail).
Now the same voter can also be able to cast his vote sitting at home, a suitable video verification should be enabled for the voter, the eye, photos attached in the identity card can be matched with the person who appears in the video verification and then a set window should be offered to cast his vote.
With this, all the migrant workers will be able to participate in the democratic process, electing their Govt. More participation always strengthens democracy and its principles.
The youth participation will also improve when they find themselves participating in a democratic process sitting at the comfort of their home and with their smartphones.
The algorithm created to mint Governance tokens(fixed in numbers), issued to the voters, and its delegation, counting, etc, all can be verified by third parties. As it is powered with Blockchain technology, it is fully secure, encrypted, immutable(most important in the context of voting).
With the feature like Delegating your voting power to another voter, the intellectuals of the society can play a bigger role in helping the nation choosing the right candidate, the public discourse, the debate can be deliberated with new hope & enthusiasm with the "delegation" feature.
Just imagine, when the naive voters, especially those who have just attained 18, become eligible to vote but don't have any idea and understanding on the social-political turf of the country can delegate their governance coin to the one who knows better than them.
Furthermore, the counting of votes will not just be fair but also quite fast & scalable, there won't be any such concept as recounting, everything will be automated. Suitable dApps should be allowed to deploy on the top of the Blockchain, to ensure that there is no doubt and confusion among the various political parties.
When fair, equitable voting alongside intellectual voting will happen it will strengthen both democratic processes and democratic objectives.
Pros & Cons
- Highly secure, immutable voting, tampered-proof.
- Verifiable by third parties.
- Fully automated process to count the votes.
- Saves a lot of time and cost.
- Makes it easy, attracts the attention of Millenials.
- The voter-turnout will dramatically improve.
- The intellectual will be able to play a bigger role to build the Nation with the feature like "Delegation" of Governance coin.
- The risks of EVM tampering, inconsistencies in counting can be mitigated.
- A vote can be as mobile as a Smartphone.
- The corrupt/Malicious elements in the Govt Machinery will still try to enroll the ineligible voters for instant gratification at the time of issuing voter identity cards.
- The delegation feature can very well be manipulated by inveiglement with money, exploiting people with the poor economic situation, offering them money, and making them delegated to fake intellectuals.
While improvement is a continuous process, reform may not be, because for that we may at times need something out of the box and from a third reference to make deep-rooted reform, addressing the various existing problem interfaces.
The advanced researches and studies have already recognized the tangible benefits of Blockchain technology beyond its application as crypto.
If we ever need a reform in the existing electoral system then we would need something that is immutable, that is transparent, that is verifiable by a third party, that is secure. Blockchain has got all these important characteristics to make the deep-rooted reform of the existing Electoral system and most importantly it has the potential to make your vote as mobile as your Smartphone.