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Mixed Feelings as Russia Readies for Landmark Blockchain Vote

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Blockchain-powered voting is coming to Russia – but digital democracy platforms are getting a mixed reception from Russian political parties as the country gears up for a crunch referendum on presidential powers.

Source: Adobe/OlegKachura

As previously reported, Russian citizens in certain parts of the country – including Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod – will get their first taste of blockchain voting on June 25, when digital platforms will open ahead of a paper ballot referendum (which will happen on July 1).

The vote could allow President Vladimir Putin to extend his term as the nation’s leader beyond 2022.

However, per Kommersant, not everyone is welcoming the new IT-powered advance.The news outlet quotes a senior member of the Nizhniy Novgorod branch of the Communist Party as stating that he fears the blockchain-powered system would not be monitored by independent electoral commissions, leaving it open to systematic manipulation.

The platform does have its champions, though – Nicholas Novichkov, a senior member of the newly formed For the Truth Party told the same media outlet that blockchain voting was quick and easy, with registration and vote-casting now a “matter of seconds.”

Novichkov stated that the platform would actually be more secure than conventional voting systems, due to the tamper-proof attributes of blockchain networks. He added that blockchain solutions would “boost the legitimacy of elections” and allow “more people to vote.”

Many health experts have also expressed their approval for the platform – which they say could help fight the country’s devastating wave of COVID-19 cases.

In a separate report, the same media outlet claimed that the Central Election Commission and Nizhniy Novgorod authorities had decided not to attempt to run blockchain-powered exit polls, stating that it would “become fundamentally impossible” to do so with “mass digital voting.”