Sierra Leone Election: Blockchain Was NOT Used

Previous reports of the Sierra Leone election being the first ever to use blockchain have turned out to be false.

As reported by The Next Web, the Sierra Leone election didn’t actually use blockchain to tally the votes. This was confirmed by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone, which tweeted on March 18th that “the NEC has not used, and is not using blockchain technology in any part of the electoral process.”

Sierra Leone electionSource: Twitter

Later, on March 19th, the NEC tweeted how the Sierra Leone election process does work:

Sierra Leone electionSource: Twitter

The emphasis was, once again, on the fact that no blockchain technology was involved. Instead, the database “was developed in C++ and runs on MS SQL – neither of which are open source applications.”

So where did the rumours originate?

The Swiss company Agora, which offers a blockchain-based digital voting solution for governments and institutions, started them by claiming that Sierra Leone used the Agora blockchain technology in tallying and auditing the election results.

Not long after the election, Agora published a post entitled “Swiss-based Agora powers world’s first ever blockchain elections in Sierra Leone” – so, the confusion is understandable.

Media then did as media does, blowing the story up and spreading the falsehood further.

What Agora claimed, somewhat vaguely, was that “West Districts results were registered on Agora’s unforgeable blockchain ledger, and the tally made publicly available days before the usual manual count.”

What actually happened was that Agora was able to observe 250 polling stations in the West, which is only about two percent of the total polling stations, and then was able to later independently count the results from those stations. According to Agora, this is where the blockchain technology supposedly came into the picture.

What this means is that blockchain had no impact, or use, in the Sierra Leone election.

Agora has now released an official statement on the matter, based in fact.

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What do you think? Did Agora mean well?

Featured image: The Conversation