Category Archives: General Election

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First Run of West Virginia Blockchain Voting Application for Overseas Military Is a Success

West Virginia’s blockchain voting application for overseas military personnel and their families has been a resounding success, this according to an official announcement made by West Virginia Secretary of State, Andrew “Mac” Warner.

Earlier this year, Warner had announced that the mountain state was conducting trials of a blockchain based electoral application for mobiles, designed specifically for those serving in the military, as well as their families who are abroad. This was intended as a solution to issues such as poor voter turnout, late receipts, and voter anonymity; upon the conclusion of the trial and after four audits, Warner’s office declared the software to have no problems.

Results

In an official announcement on 15 November, Warner praised a phenomenal voter turnout and presented the figures for the blockchain voting application, he wrote:

“Military and overseas voters in 24 West Virginia counties had, for the first time, an easy and hassle-free way to participate in this year’s General Election. Approximately 144 military and overseas West Virginians voted from 30 different countries using a mobile voting application. This is a first-in-the-nation project that allowed uniformed services members and overseas citizens to use a mobile application to cast a ballot secured by blockchain technology.”

Voter turnout among active service members is sluggish in the United States, according to the Election Assistance Commission, 13% (930,156) of the 7.7 million entitled overseas voters signed up to receive a ballot for 2016’s general election, despite already having “special provisions” which allow them to vote via email. From this figure, only 68.1% (633,593) of these ballots were returned.

Blockchain Voting

Speaking with the Washington Post, Warner’s deputy chief of staff Michael Queen said that only two voters so far had experienced problems with the app, when prompted for thoughts on security, Queen commented that West Virginia has no intentions to extend this voting system beyond that of its overseas military population.

Adding, “Secretary Warner has never and will never advocate that this is a solution for mainstream voting,”

Earlier criticisms of the application were made by security experts such as Joseph Lorenzo Hall, who in August told CNN Business, “Mobile voting is a horrific idea. It’s internet voting on people’s horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.”

On the contrary, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology credits those who went ahead with the project as “the bold ones”, adding “There is something to be said sometimes for small-scale pilots where we can learn the trade-offs,”

Around the World

Voting on the blockchain had gradually caught the attention of the world, with nations such as Russia and Japan joining in on the experiment.

In August, National Public Monitoring (NOM) a Russian non-profit organization announced the pilot of a blockchain based voting project. Not many details have been shared yet, but the project was declared to a congress of 300 representatives including the “Corps” for Clean Elections.

In Japan, a southern city named Tsukuba revealed that it will be using a pre-tested blockchain system for local residents to vote on local programs.

According to other reports, blockchain voting is a tool for presenting the most accurate poll results, which in some areas of the world could be vital for democracy.

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Election day in Québec: Where Does Crypto Mining Go from Here?

The Canadian French-speaking province of Québec goes to the polls today, but what could this mean for the future of the region’s vibrant cryptocurrency mining economy?

The outcome of the 1 October parliamentary elections could have a significant impact on the future of Bitcoin mining, as the incumbent Liberal government clings on to power by a thread.

The parties in the race are for the 2018 general election include The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ), Solidarity Quebec (QS), Quebec Party (PQ) and Green Party of Quebec (PVQ). At this stage, only one party – the Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ) – has a feasible chance of taking power, with Parti Québécois running third; two political bodies at some point expressing a wish to advance blockchain in the province.

The incumbent Liberals have recently applied the brakes when it comes to Bitcoin mining in the state, ordering Hydro Québec, the state-owned electricity supplier, to restrict the sale of power and raise the tariffs of blockchain companies charges. Although the Liberal government has blamed the lack of grid capacity on recent actions, critics are far more cynical, arguing that the government lacks vision and is driving away valuable business which should be boosting Québec’s economy.

“These measures immediately damaged numerous mining operations in Quebec and deterred investors who went elsewhere… The crypto community is really not happy about that,” maintains former Les Affairs columnist François Remy. Francis Pouliot, Montreal cryptocurrency pundit went further, saying in June that “the Québec Bitcoin Eldorado is dead”. Remy sees the two close runners as parties who could lift the industry in the province:

“The (Liberal) government is about to lose the elections, and the other political parties, like Parti Québécois and CAQ seem more opened to blockchain… They want to attract these companies, to support them and use cheap electricity and cold climate as a competitive advantage for the Québec economy.”

Quebec became a mecca for North American companies in late 2017 offering both cheap hydroelectricity and cold weather – crypto mining’s two absolute essentials for a healthy profit. As more companies moved to the region, Hydro-Québec began to report that the demand for power was beginning to impact on the grid due to the surge in crypto mining and the increase in data center construction in the province.

As reported in June by Bitcoin News, this led to a moratorium on new mining in the province which resulted in a 500MW electricity pool being allocated to blockchain customers, which would then be auctioned off, based on tariffs companies would be happy to pay. This remains the status quo until further discussions set for November.

How keen both the CAQ and the Parti Québécois will be to become parties who show a real willingness to advance new technology in the region and tackle such problems, will remain to be seen until after today’s closely-run election.

 

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