Electoral Commission candidate in Kenya calls for blockchain vote

Justus Abonyo, former leader of the Social Democratic Party of Kenya and current candidate for the office of commissioner of the country’s Independent Electoral and Borders Commission (IEBC), has called for the introduction of blockchain voting.

Abonyo appealed when he appeared before the selection committee that oversaw the appointment of IEBC commissioners at the Kenyatta International Convention Center on Thursday, according to a report by Kenyan news agency The Star.

In details of his support for the introduction of blockchain voting, Abonyo said that such a move would result in significant cost savings of up to 300%, stating:

“The cost of a vote in Kenya ranges from 7 to 25 US dollars (700 to 2500 Shillings). If we use blockchain technology, this cost will be reduced to $ 0.5 (Sh50). This is an area that I will explore as Commissioner. “

The prospective IEBC commissioner also argued that the introduction of blockchain voting would also help improve the transparency and security of the Kenyan elections. Abonyo’s call to adopt new technologies also comes as the country prepares for further parliamentary elections in 2022.

Kenya’s previous presidential election in 2017 was reportedly overshadowed by allegations that the IEBC’s electronic voting system had been compromised. These claims are confirmed by the murder of the IEBC’s IT director a few days before the investigation.

Connected: UN drug and crime prevention advises Kenya to use blockchain to fight corruption

The jury is not yet sure how effective the blockchain voting is, as MIT cybersecurity experts stated in November 2020 that voting systems based on the new technology pose “serious risks” to democracy.

In fact, several implementations of blockchain-based voting protocols have recently undergone performance monitoring. In July 2020, reports surfaced that the system used when voting on the 2020 constitutional amendment in Russia allows voters and even third parties to decipher ballots that have already been passed.

Meanwhile, Abonyo is not the first to offer blockchain as a panacea for security and transparency in the country. As Cointelegraph previously reported, David Robinson, regional anti-corruption advisor at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, stated in November 2020 that the Kenyan authorities could use blockchain as an anti-corruption tool.

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