Blockchain Voting Notches Another Success—This Time in Switzerland

July 3, 2018, 10:07 AM UTC

The most high-profile use of blockchain technology, which records information in ledgers distributed across many computers, is for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. But there’s increasing interest in using the blockchain to record votes, too.

The latest example can be found in the Swiss tax haven of Zug, which—in common with some other places in Switzerland—is keen to establish itself as a blockchain capital. Not only does the Zug municipality allow Bitcoin payments for services; it’s just successfully completed a trial of blockchain-based voting.

The trial involves citizens putting their voices forward in a consultative vote—Switzerland has a lot of those—on an invented issue. Zug citizens got to vote via smartphone, using the town’s new electronic ID system. The trial took place from June 25 until Monday.

“The premiere was a success,” Zug communications chief Dieter Müller told the Swiss News Agency. The number of participants in the test was not particularly high, but those who took part apparently found it easy.

Next comes a technical analysis of how the trial went. This is the big issue with electronic voting—the holy grail is a system that allows for auditing while preserving the anonymity of individuals’ votes, and also while stopping anyone from tampering with the records.

Last year, Nasdaq trialled blockchain-based e-voting in Estonia, a country that is also very keen to embrace new-style electronic public services. That was in the context of shareholder votes, though.

Earlier this year, Sierra Leone was widely reported to have tested blockchain technology during national elections, but the African country’s government subsequently denied having done so.