Russia set to try again with blockchain voting despite earlier setbacks

Russian telecommunication giant Rostelekom, together with the Russian Ministry of Digital Development and Communications, tested a blockchain-based voting system developed in collaboration with Waves Enterprise.

As local news outlets reported, the preliminary test involved 30,000 people who were trying out the platform’s functionality and technical capabilities. According to Rostelekom spokespeople, the system worked as intended during the test and did not fail under high load. 

Votes were reportedly counted in less than one minute through homomorphic encryption systems. This method allows calculations to result in the same output even if the underlying data remains encrypted.

Officials noted that the test helped them to identify some usability issues. They have since pledged that the feedback will be used to make the platform more accessible and intuitive.

The platform will be used for a partial parliamentary election in the Kursk and Yaroslavl regions on from Sep. 11 through 13. An additional mock election will be conducted on Aug. 31 as a final check of the system before its live deployment.

This is a continuation of Russia’s blockchain voting experiments, first conducted in 2019 for the Moscow local elections and then in June 2020 for the controversial constitutional amendment referendum.

The platform used for the upcoming election was developed in collaboration with Waves Enterprise and it is a completely independent product from previous iterations.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the Bitfury-developed platform used in the June election suffered from major performance issues, security bugs, allegations of fraud, and an alleged lack of transparency.

While Waves assured Cointelegraph in earlier interviews that their system does not contain backdoors, critics of the previous system argued that if it cannot be validated by external observers, blockchain offers precious few improvements over a centralized e-voting system.