Australia has carved out a special place for itself in the Bitcoin sphere lately. From reports pointing to Australian Craig Steven Wright as the man behind the Satoshi Nakamoto persona, to the first Bitcoin mining IPO, Australia is all over the bitcoin news. This time around, it is a small fringe political party that is highlighting Australia’s place in the bitcoin map. The NVB, which stands for Neutral Voting Block, is seeking to change the face of Australian politics, and so far it has succeeded in changing the face of the electoral process within the party. This is the first known party to use blockchain powered votes to elect its candidates/representatives.
Blockchain and Liquid Democracy (LD)
The NVB proposes a system to apply a concept called Liquid Democracy, in which the blockchain is a crucial tool. Liquid Democracy (LD) is a kind of hybrid between a direct democracy – a system in which citizens vote directly on every policy issue instead of having their elected representatives do so for them – and a representative democracy – a system in which citizens elect officials to represent their interests and vote on policy on their behalf. LD works by giving the citizens the right to elect a representative, bestow their vote upon a person whom they deem is an expert on the policy topic, or vote directly on the policy topic.
In this day and age in which millions of people vote, the internet is the only possible enabler of LD. Within the internet, blockchain is the crucial tool. Citizens can discuss policy formulations online in various forums, and then vote through the blockchain. The vote itself will work as a sort of ‘transaction’, such that the vote can be either ‘deposited’ directly in the ballot box, or deposited in a given representative’s ‘wallet’ – whether it is an elected representative or an expert whom the given voter trusts to deposit his or her vote in the ballot box.
Accountability Through the Blockchain
After the vote has taken place, the result will immediately appear in the ballot box – or boxes, since it might be necessary to have a ballot box for a ‘yes’ vote and a separate for a ‘no’ vote for example. Since every ‘transaction’ can be traced on the blockchain, if voters bestowed their vote upon an expert or an elected representative, they will be able to see how these people ‘deposited’ their vote in the ballot box.
This means that even if the trusted expert or elected official deposited a given vote in a way other than intended, then that voter will take the vote back next election to him/herself. Voter secrecy can also be kept thanks to encryption. All votes will be pseudonymous, such that no one will be able to know how each individual voted unless that individual discloses his or her identity. Still, voters will be able to check the ballot box and see where and how their pseudonymous vote was deposited.
The NVB as a Pioneer
The NVB is currently using the blockchain for internal party voting, hoping that enough people will embrace their platform. Their immediate goal is to take 6 senate seats, at which point the NVB is convinced that they will be able to turn the tables and show the people the advantages of voting for them. In theory, it should be the best party to vote for since every one of their members will have the right to voice their opinion on every single vote the party makes at the parliament. No other party currently offers that.
This is probably the most accountable political party in the face of the earth, the only thing left to be seen is if they succeed. In any case they have already succeeded in bringing the blockchain into politics, which is a revolution in and of itself. Once again, Australians are leading the way in the blockchain realm, a feat that hopefully more parties around the world will emulate. Depending on the success and the amount of coverage the NVB gets, maybe pressure will start building on elected officials to change the current – obsolete – voting system into a blockchain powered one.