Blockchain-powered voting concluded for United Russia (known locally as ER) Party primaries over the weekend, with many staying away from polling booths due to the COVID-19 pandemic – instead favoring online platforms that make use of votes registered on a blockchain protocol.
ER is Russia’s ruling party and holds 336 of the State Duma’s 450 seats. That could change at the legislative elections likely to be held in mid-September this year, but the pandemic has disrupted normal primary processes for the party. While booths were operational across the nation, social distancing measures were put in place, and the ER also said it would allow online voting via the voting platform.
Some critics have stated that government-run blockchain voting platforms have been riddled with errors and bugs, while others claim they lack transparency, are not true blockchain solutions, and are open to manipulation.
But nonetheless, multiple local media reports from around the country appear to show that many voters decided to make use of PC and smartphone-based solutions.
Per Echo Severa, a media outlet in the Western Russian city of Arkhangelsk, the city’s regional organizing committee for preliminary voting stated that ER “is the only party in the country that forms lists of candidates for elections by conducting nationwide primaries.”
The committee chief also noted that the encryption keys for the vote were held by the party’s election managers, as well as tech experts from Rostelecom, the long-distance telephony company and blockchain solutions provider.
Meanwhile, TV Tomsk reported that in the city of Tomsk, a local “situation room” had been set up to “track all possible violations and controversies” as residents cast their votes on the platform.
In the semi-autonomous republic of Ingushetia, the local media outlet Gazeta Ingushetia reported that voters were also able to use the platform to pick their preferred nominees for the ER candidates to stand at the election for the People’s Assembly of the Republic of Ingushetia, which will also take place in September.
And in Siberia, Siberia Novosti reported that in the Krasnoyarsk administrative region 159,885 voters had nominated their preferred candidates using the platform as of May 30.
Blockchain voting was enabled from May 24 to May 30, and the platform also featured video messages from the nominees hoping to gain approval from ER voters.
The party will reveal the results of the preliminaries at the ER congress, slated to be held on June 19.