Building Trust and Civic Engagement

At a time when the bonds of trust in institutions, polling and the voting process are being challenged, blockchain technology provides a unique and promising opportunity to restore people’s faith. Civic engagement is crucial to the health of any democracy and the transactional transparency of distributed ledger solutions can build more trust in the processes that allow democracy to prosper.

A particular area of focus for NTRL’s team of researchers is developing applications that integrate blockchain solutions into traditional political (and sometimes non-political) processes like polling and voting. These efforts center around not only bringing full data transparency to the results, but also cutting down on sampling biases brought on by fraud and other mischief.

If the goal is to increase turnout and participation, the process of tying a unique and validated voter to a digital hash without making the process incredibly cumbersome, is particularly challenging.

NTLR is exploring ways to create a vote that can only be accessed by voters with specific emails or phone numbers. One proven approach is for each user to be represented by a token with a KECCAK-256 hash that is created and stored inside a smart contract (functioning as part of a registry). After the user supplies the correct token, the registry can generate or locate the proxy smart contract that represents a specific user alias. The alias, in its turn, allows a vote to be cast on behalf of the voter’s Ethereum account. Every single time a voter logs in they create a random Ethereum account on their own computer and sign their vote with a token. Of course, when the voter asks the alias to cast a vote, the alias checks if that Ethereum account has permission to do so.

1. Participant receives token
2. Participant creates Ethereum account
3. Participant self-signs transaction with token and sends it to registry
4. Registry createsor finds an alias, returns address to voter
5. Participant asks alias to cast a vote
6. Participant’s Ethereum account is checked