back to article No, Sierra Leone did not just run the world's first 'blockchain election'

Blockchain enthusiasts may be a little deflated today, after the nation of Sierra Leone took to Twitter to debunk claims it had conducted “the world’s first blockchain election.” But it’s not all bad news for blockheads, because distributed ledgers were used during the poll and performed well, just not in an official capacity …

  1. frank ly Silver badge
    Happy

    re. " ... blockheads ..."

    Nice one.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Hit me with your crypto shtick

      Hit me.

      Hit me.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Hit me with your crypto shtick

        Je t'adore, ich liebe dich

        Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

        Well played, sir. :)

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Hit me with your crypto shtick

        Nice! Excellent segue into pop! *applauds*

  2. Dr Paul Taylor

    So what was blockchain used for?

    So, a story that I didn't hear was false.

    It would be nice to know, technically, what this company did use blockchain for in their observation of part of an election, and whether it was effective in identifying any fraud.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: So what was blockchain used for?

      Not false, exaggerated.

    2. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: So what was blockchain used for?

      Sounds like a proof of concept prior to entering the realm of voting machines.

      As a concept it actually looks very good. Even today voter fraud is brought up in every election in the world. Now imagine a world where you can vote online via an app on your phone from anywhere in the world? And the result is 100% guaranteed correct. No postal fraud, no "hanging chads", no "spoiled" ballots. Where the cost of actually holding a vote becomes marginal enough that people can actually be allowed to vote on things that matter to them instead of expecting their elected representative to vote how their constituents actually want them to vote and not how they're told to vote by party leaders.

      Mind you, even when we do get offered a referendum it's loaded towards the government or just based on blatant lies and idiocy.

      1. IHateWearingATie

        Re: So what was blockchain used for?

        "And the result is 100% guaranteed correct."

        If by correct you mean 'tallied correctly' then yes. If by 'correct' you mean 'without any kind of fraud' then no, it can't do that. There are plenty of election exploits that blockchain isn't an answer for (see Tower Hamlets mayoral election as an example).

        Blockchain is a cunning technology, but lets not pretend it can fix all election ills.

        1. PNGuinn
          Holmes

          Re: So what was blockchain used for?

          "Blockchain is a cunning technology, but lets not pretend it can fix all election ills."

          So, what you're saying is that it's simply a cunning stunt.

      2. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: So what was blockchain used for?

        Now imagine a world where you can vote online via an app on your phone from anywhere in the world? And the result is 100% guaranteed correct.

        And the result is 100% guaranteed to be whatever the guy who hacked into your phone wanted it to be. Unless the guy who hacked into the election machine wanted a different result.

        FTFY.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Voting via phone

          If anything is guaranteed to get all the people fiddling around with 0 days focused on developed a widespread attack that could infect millions of phones and lie undetected until a given time, it would be voting on phones. Hackers who could develop this would be set for life, and even be able to afford the 24x7xlifetime security they'd need to keep the other side from retaliating.

    3. x 7

      Re: So what was blockchain used for?

      It was used to monitor the supply of bullets to the competing candidates

      Well thats how most African elections are won.........

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Does anything stop the information in the linked video applying?

    Numberphile on You Tube

    Because you still have to trust the code/machine which you probably can't verify...

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Does anything stop the information in the linked video applying?

      "

      Because you still have to trust the code/machine which you probably can't verify...

      "

      Whereas in a traditional election you have to trust thousands of individual officials who have access to the ballot boxes

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    More blockchain nonsense

    First it was touted as guaranteeing anonymity, but that was shot to pieces.

    Now it's being touted as secure, but if that were the case then BitCoin Exchanges could not possibly be the hotbed of fraud and theft that they currently are, so that argument goes down the drain as well.

    I wonder what blockchain really is all that good for. A distributed ledger ? So what ? It only means that the more people use it, the more heavy it gets, thus the more difficult to use.

    It's kind of self-defeating, that way.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: More blockchain nonsense

      "

      Now it's being touted as secure, but if that were the case then BitCoin Exchanges could not possibly be the hotbed of fraud and theft that they currently are, so that argument goes down the drain as well.

      "

      Two entirely different things. That's like saying that putting holograms and other forgery-prevention measures on banknotes does not protect against fraud or having your wallet stolen. No, that is not what it was designed to do.

      Blockchain achieves one thing - it prevents anyone from making changes to previous transactions *after the fact*

      If someone has access to a ballot box, then they could remove your ballot paper and substitute a ballot paper containing a different vote. i.e. your vote has been changed after you have successfully cast your vote.

      Blockchain will not prevent rigged voting machines (but there are plenty of other things that could), but it *can* ensure that once you have successfully cast your vote, nobody can come along later and alter the database to change that vote.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: More blockchain nonsense

        But it can't prevent fake votes from being added, or the process for counting the votes being compromised, so what good is it?

        Some might think it is a good thing that they can refer to an entry in a blockchain and say "see, there's my vote for Jones for president!" but if that's possible then someone (your boss, your union, your husband, your unstable neighbor with the "Jones is a pedophile!" yard signs) could put pressure on you to vote the way they want. Today that's not possible because they don't have any way of knowing whether you voted their way or for Jones. If the evidence is in the blockchain, they could demand to see it, and the pressure to vote the way they want is amped up.

        If all it does is say "DougS voted" then it doesn't act as an assurance that my vote for Jones was counted, only that SOME vote in my name was counted, which isn't worth much.

        So no, blockchain adds exactly zero to the integrity of voting - and if it does it makes some people actively less safe from coercion.

        1. Carpet Deal 'em

          Re: More blockchain nonsense

          > So no, blockchain adds exactly zero to the integrity of voting - and if it does it makes some people actively less safe from coercion.

          The logical answer here is to have some key that a person can use to verify their vote, but doesn't publicly link it to their name, possibly unique to that vote(ie, a serial number) or a more general secret(like social security numbers or such).

  5. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Blockchain

    Ballot boxes were chained to heavy blocks.

    I get in now.

  6. hayzoos
    Unhappy

    Blockchain, blockchain, blockchain

    I can't believe the current voting machine manufacturers are not all over the blockchain craze. Ya know since doing blockchain does wonders for stock values. The only part they have to get right is making sure blockchain is in the marketing literature and enough techno mumbo jumbo gobbly gook to appear they have this blockchain thing down pat. Oh, and since the paper trail thing has already left the station, they have to do that too.

    Pardon me, can I get something without blockchain? Ah, sure, blockchain!

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