Justus Abonyo, former leader of the Kenyan Social Democratic Party and current candidate for the office of commissioner of the country’s Independent Electoral and Borders Commission (IEBC), has called for the introduction of blockchain voting.
According to a report by Kenyan news agency The Star, Abonyo made this appeal when he appeared on Thursday before the selection committee that oversaw the appointment of IEBC commissioners at the Kenyatta International Convention Center.
Explaining its support for the introduction of blockchain voting, Abonyo said that such a move would result in significant cost savings of up to 300%, stating:
“The cost of a vote in Kenya is between 7 and 25 US dollars (700-2500 Shillings). When we use blockchain technology, that cost drops to $ 0.5 (Sh50). This is an area that I would explore as a Commissioner. “
The IEBC candidate also argued that the introduction of blockchain voting will also help improve the transparency and security of the Kenyan elections. Abonyo’s call to adopt the novel technology also comes as the country prepares for further general elections in 2022.
Kenya’s previous presidential election in 2017 was reportedly overshadowed by allegations of compromising the IEBC’s electronic voting system. These claims were further substantiated by the murder of the IEBC IT manager days before the elections.
Connected: UN drugs and crime department advises Kenya to use blockchain against corruption
The jury is not yet sure how effective the blockchain voting is, as MIT cybersecurity experts said in November 2020 that voting systems based on the new technology pose “serious risks” for democracy.
In fact, some of the recent deployments of blockchain-based voting protocols have been performance tested. In July 2020, reports surfaced that the system used in voting on Russia’s 2020 constitutional amendment allowed voters and even third parties to decipher the ballots cast.
Meanwhile, Abonyo is not the first to offer blockchain as a panacea to ensure security and transparency in the country. As Cointelegraph reported, David Robinson, the United Nations Office’s Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor on Drugs and Crime, said back in November 2020 that the Kenyan authorities could use blockchain as an anti-corruption tool.