Russia’s new blockchain-powered voting systems could be exploited by unscrupulous politicians, becoming “tools” for the architects of rigged elections and voter fraud, a journalist has alleged.
The claims were made in a new column entitled “Blockchain for Dictators” by Sergei Golubitsky, an IT journalist and a long-time contributor to the liberal-leaning Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Golubitsky stated that Russian blockchain-powered voting – already rolled out in recent by-elections, at the national level in testbed zone for a referendum on constitutional reform and previously by the Moscow city authorities – is fundamentally flawed.
He claimed that all iterations of blockchain voting so far used in the Russian political process are more like standard corporate distributed networks than true blockchain networks – due to the fact that they are not decentralized in nature and are hosted on government-servers.
A number of reports have claimed that the blockchain voting processes already used have been riddled with fatal issues.
In a stinging attack, the journalist wrote that the Russian state feared “completely losing control over election results,” in a system that allowed powermongers to “govern without democratic traditions.”
He added that “electronic voting on a pseudo-blockchain” was becoming widespread in Russia, penning,
“Soon we will see [pseudo-blockchain voting] in Russia everywhere (because, as far as I know, this adaptation trend has already been taken up by the powerful elite).”
However, he did offer hope for proponents of “true” fully decentralized voting platforms that make use of blockchain technology, stating,
“All technologies, however, have one remarkable property: If they provide objectively better results, sooner or later they will be used, regardless of whether we like them or not.”
Regardless of Golubitsky and other critics’ opposition, Russia looks set to roll out more blockchain-powered voting systems in the near future, with offerings from the state-run telecommunications firm Rostelecom and Russian software giant Kaspersky Lab gaining traction in the Russian public sector.
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