Moscow to pilot blockchain platform for e-voting

By Moscow Government

Today Moscow authorities have announced a pilot project to implement blockchain in its e-voting system Active Citizen.

Active Citizen is a platform allowing citizens to influence city management decisions and its urban transformation (1.9 mln users and around 2800 polls since the launch in 2014). During peak load users can cast around 1000 votes per minute in Active Citizen – Moscow Government will become the first city around the world to implement blockchain in e-voting on such a large scale. One of the key goals of the pilot is to challenge what are the limitations of the technology as a whole.

Blockchain-based election system will bring remarkable change into digital voting process in Moscow. Prior to implementation of blockchain the votes were listed on Active Citizen server and users could examine the results through the website announcements only. With blockchain introduction every Muscovite can become a part of blockchain in Active Citizen in a few steps: download installation manual and install the software. By doing so, every citizen will become a node of a peer-to-peer network and will be able to record and store the database of votes. Moreover, Muscovites will be able to count the votes up and verify the authencity of results in real time.

Through blockchain every vote in Active Citizen will become a smart contract which is publicly viewable and transparent. Once the vote is placed, it will be listed in a ledger consisting of all votes taken place across a peer-to-peer network. It will guarantee that the data will not be lost or altered by someone after the vote was casted so there is no chance for fraud or third-party interference.

Artem Ermolaev, CIO of Moscow explained the importance of blockchain in e-voting: “We are excited to improve credibility and transparency of e-voting system in Moscow by introducing blockchain. We believe that blockhain will increase trust between the citizens and the government. We aim to hit 2 mln users in the near future who are ready to influence the city life.”

Taking into account the challenges of implementation of blockchain on such scale, Moscow authorities have chosen to launch blockchain while preserving the existing architecture of Active Citizen platform. At this stage the votes are recorded from the app and website to the server, and then simultaneously to the standard relational database and the blockchain network. While piloting the project with massive amount of data authorities aim to test several aspects: failure reliability, resilience to updates, speed of data processing, and correct synchronization of nodes. If the system works steadily Moscow authorities plan to store the entire data with blockchain technology and to replicate it to other IT projects in Moscow. Implementation of blockchain will lead to improvement of information security and transparency along with reducing administrative costs for Moscow Government.

Since the launch in 2014, Active Citizen has gathered 1.9 mln users and more than 87.2 mln opinions. In total, there have been 2 726 polls held and the most popular polls usually attracted up to 0.5 mln citizens. Active Citizen Motto is “The city entrusts you to decide” and Moscow Government is dedicated to attract more citizens to influence the city management. Authorities also encourage users to vote by granting score points for their activities on the website. The users have an access to online store in order to pick up the gift they wish to receive in exchange for the score points: a ticket for a ballet performance, a bestseller book, or branded merchandise among many more.

Given the fact that Active Citizen is non-political e-voting system Muscovites decide on wide range of city issues to make their lives more comfortable. For instance, they have chosen new public transport routes and introduced speed limits in the city center. Other examples of Active Citizen polls are as follows: construction and further expansion of bike lanes, expansion of pedestrian zones, free Wi-Fi available in metro and parks, dance courses and music bands playing in the parks. Citizens have also voted for the name for the new high-tech subway train, as well as logo and name for Zaryadye park.

One of the largest polls was held for “My Street” Moscow redevelopment project. Over 0.5 mln citizens have decided on specific urban and landscape design to be created, trees to be planted, new public transport routes to be launched, the list of the streets to be renovated first and materials, like the tiles for the bathroom, to be used etc.