Justus Abonyo, former chair of Kenya’s Social Democratic Party and current candidate for commissioner of the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has called for the adoption of blockchain voting.
According to a report by Kenyan news outlet, The Star, Abonyo spoke of this while appearing before the selection committee overseeing the appointment of IEBC commissioners at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Thursday.
Detailing his support for blockchain voting adoption, Abonyo said such a move would have significant, cost savings benefits of up to 300%, stating:
“The cost of a ballot in Kenya ranges between $7 to $25 (700 shillings to 2,500 shillings). If we use blockchain technology, this cost will go down to ~$0.5 (50 shillings). This is an area I would explore as a commissioner.”
The IEBC commissioner aspirant also argued that adopting blockchain voting will also help to improve the transparency and security of Kenya’s elections. Abonyo’s call for adopting the novel tech also comes as the country prepares for another general election in 2022.
Kenya’s previous presidential polls back in 2017 were reportedly marred by accusations of IEBC’s electronic voting system being compromised. These claims were further given credence by the murder of the IEBC’s IT manager days before the polls.
The jury is still out on the effectiveness of blockchain voting, with MIT cybersecurity experts stating back in November 2020 that voting systems based on the novel tech carried “severe risks” to democracy.
Indeed, some recent deployments of blockchain-based voting protocols have come under performance scrutiny. In July 2020, reports emerged that the system utilized in Russia’s constitutional amendment vote back in 2020 allowed constituents and even third-party entities to decipher the ballots cast.
Meanwhile, Abonyo is not the first to offer blockchain as a panacea for ensuring security and transparency in the country. David Robinson, the regional anti-corruption advisor at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, stated back in November 2020 that Kenyan authorities could use blockchain as a tool to fight corruption.