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[UPDATED] Swiss City Zug Trials Voting Through Blockchain Technology




Nicknamed “Crypto Valley,” Zug is taking its commitment to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology further by piloting blockchain-based voting.

UPDATED | July 3, 2018:

The blockchain-based test vote in Zug concluded July 2, 2018. Dieter Müller, head of communications for the city, told Swissinfo that "the premiere was a success."

Many voters used their smartphones to participate and the results will now be analyzed to check they are verifiable, unchangeable, and understandable.

According to the report, most voters indicated via a questionnaire that they found it "easy to vote digitally," though Müller expressed disappointment in participant turnout.

240 Zug residents had access to the system and 72 took part. 31 percent of respondents said they would use their new digital identities to complete their tax returns and 26 percent said they would be willing to pay parking fees the same way.

Though turnout was relatively low, it could be taken into account that the results to the pilot questions are not legally binding. Critical issues or real-life electoral voting would potentially draw a higher number of technology-savvy users.

ORIGINAL | June 11, 2018:

Zug, Switzerland, is a hub of welcoming regulation, digital currency acceptance, and blockchain-related events and companies. The local government has consistently extended a friendly hand to crypto-related projects, and its Crypto Valley Association strives to promote the region as "a global center where emerging cryptographic, blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies and businesses can thrive in a safe, supportive, and vibrant environment."

Now, the city of Zug is piloting an e-voting system based on blockchain technology. Between June 25 and July 1, all residents enrolled in an existing blockchain-based digital identification system will be able to vote in an online poll using an Ethereum-based "uPort" app. In November 2017, Zug launched the underlying digital identification system.

The poll is part of a research project led by Dr. Alexander Denzler, lecturer on blockchain and "big data" at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, and is intended to assess the privacy, security, immutability, testability, and traceability of blockchain technology.

The results of the survey are nonbinding but will give the city council valuable information about public opinion. The poll will include questions about local matters and digital IDs. Residents will be asked if they would like to use their digital IDs to participate in other government services such as libraries, payment of parking fees, submission of electronic tax returns, and regular referendums.

Voting systems have been pinpointed as a potential use case for blockchain for some time, and many governments and researchers are looking into the possibilities. A pilot for absentee military voters was recently conducted for a West Virginia US primary election and at least one financial enterprise is exploring patents for proxy voting.

However, while some of these experiments may be well and good for local municipalities or companies, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has warned against relying on blockchain to conduct national government elections this early in the technology's development.

Melanie Kramer

Melanie Kramer is a freelance FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency writer based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied, and retains an avid interest in, global politics, business, and economics.

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