Thailand’s newspaper Bangkok Post had informed on January 3rd that, “Thailand can use blockchain technology for elections, with a hybrid model that combines e-voting in close groups and traditional voting, as Thais still need time to build up digital literacy.”
NECTEC is the name for the electronic system that is currently being developed to host elections on the Blockchain. News has also been released about this public development by Chalee Vorakulpipat, Head of the Cybersecurity Laboratory at NECTEC with the following details, “Nectec developed blockchain technology for e-voting that can be applied to national, provincial or community elections, as well as business votes such as the board of directors…” (source).
It is not a totally new idea to carry out political elections through the Blockchain. In 2018, proposals had been considered in several countries to carry out electoral processes on the Ethereum Network. In the United States, an investigation of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University transcended. In Japan, models have been exposed at the University of Tsukuba. And in Costa Rica, a Masters thesis was published at Cenfotec University, where an election model based on Smart Contracts and digital signatures was proposed.
In addition to academic and scientific proposals by various universities and research organizations throughout 2018, news have also been published in multiple media that inform on the implementation of real elections using Blockchain technology at the level of municipalities or state governments. In the United States, it was widely covered that the State of West Virginia has been testing a voting system secured by the Blockchain. In Japan, the Tsukuba municipality already has a new system ready to be used; through it one can vote online. It is also known that the Swiss town of Zug is testing its own system as well.
Examples are all over the world. The technologies that make it possible for regular citizens to submit their vote on an un-erasable open ledger and to enjoy the potential of the most transparent voting systems thanks to the Blockchain, are being developed and implemented in many places around the world. Thailand, however, represents the first instance of a central government using Blockchain for national elections. The magnitude and scale make Thailand’s case a historical step that may be studied globally by all Blockchain developers and public institutions. This is highly disruptive and welcomed for social and technological advance.
The new distributed ledger technologies provided by modern Blockchains have the capacity to register and protect the integrity of the votes and the will of the voters. The security in them is provided by the invincibility of the algorithms that protect the data and by the traceability of each datum. In the Blockchain, each voting decision becomes a transaction that is confirmed through mechanisms of Proof of Work or Proof of Stake. In the present, no existing force or technology in the world could manipulate or alter the content of the distributed ledger. This makes the voting process as safe as a Bitcoin transaction, arguably the most secure system in the world.
The Blockchain is based on a distributed system, or as some may describe it, on a technologically and politically decentralized system. Decentralization means that no central authority has access or power to manipulate or change the data that is published. The Blockchain is then protected by the respected principle of “immutability”. Through the Blockchain, votes remain intact in the distributed ledger allowing them to be verified after voting as many times as desired. It does not even require a central agency to supervise and review the results; anyone can review and audit them. The immutability theoretically would allow a student of the future, say in 200 years, to see the original votes that Thais issued in 2019, if the plan is completed.
In Thailand, Vorakulpipat has emphasized that Blockchain “reduces fraud and maintains data integrity”. The Thai government is taking the step in favor of the decentralization of information and in favor of transparency in political processes. According to official sources, the new system will allow voters to cast their votes by email. In order for this to be possible, the government is preparing an intelligent system of identity recognition that works through the camera of a computer or mobile phone. Thai citizens who do not live in Thailand can also vote thanks to the Blockchain with the assistance of their respective Thai Embassies.
In this moment, Thailand is very close to teaching the world a lesson. The lesson are, “Things can be done!” “If one wants to become fair and transparent, and if one wants to diminish centralized powers in order to develop decentralization and in order to create a better world for all; then things can be done!” “When you want, you can.” These are the lessons. Even governments of the world can be facilitators. Governments can be a positive force with legitimate purpose to do what is best for their citizens and empower them through the latest technological advances. The Blockchain does not belong to anybody. The Blockchain belongs to everybody. It was created to serve any person or government who wants more Democracy and opportunities for all.
What do you think about the Thai Government being in favor of Blockchain technologies?