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Sierra Leone uses blockchain-based voting system for presidential election

Sierra Leone has become one of the world’s first countries to deploy and use a blockchain-based voting system in recent elections.

The country’s citizens are currently voting to replace President Ernest Bai Koroma, who has been in power for a decade. The first round took place on 7 March. The second round of voting will take place at the end of the month if no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote. 

To coincide with the vote, the Sierra Leonean government has been trialling a blockchain voting system from Swiss technology company Agora in the country’s Western Direct. It has already processed 400,000 ballots.

Such systems have been tested in countries such as Denmark and Estonia in the past, but politicians have been slow to forge ahead with a full roll-out due to security fears.

The firm has already posted initial aggregated results – putting current minister for foreign affairs Samura Kamara, the candidate of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), in the lead. He has reportedly received more than 50 per cent of the vote to date.

According fintech news outlet CoinDesk, Agora has distributed 280 specialists to manage the voting system directly from polling stations.

Not only are they there to support voters, but the specialists will also work with the country’s National Election Committee (NEC) to count the final votes.

Although the final results will not be determined by Agora’s platform, the NEC has given the company permission to publish its findings in future studies on blockchain voting systems.

In the case of the Sierra Leone election, Agora’s blockchain system calculates votes by candidate and area data. It also considers polling locations.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Agora CEO Leonardo Gammar explained: “These are the final results from Agora to the Western area. The NEC is going to have its own results. Other observers are going to have their own results.”

And, he confirmed to Quartz, that the company is already working on plans to bring its blockchain-based voting system to other countries across the world. He said: “I also thought that if we can do it in Sierra Leone, we can do it everywhere else.”

 

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