Community Podcast RCast

RCAST 4: Blockchain Voting (with Jonathan Alexander/Netvote and Karl Kurrle/Govurn)


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While preparing this podcast for publication, a disturbing article appeared on the Vox Twitter feed. Much like climate change isn’t something “in the future” but a reality we’re all grappling with right now, the fact that we’ll have to contend with the hacking of our voting system for years or even decades to come is setting in. Discussing a security breach in Knoxville, Tennessee, the article continues,

One county technician, dumbfounded by the whoosh of code rocketing across the screen, somberly took out his phone and began to film it. The assault was being launched from 65 countries, a legion of zombie computers pressed into service by the attack’s architects. Finally, the barrage intensified so much that after 15 minutes, the server succumbed and crashed.

In this case, the ruse was a diversion. Hackers gained access while the servers screamed “fire.” The problem isn’t necessarily vote flipping, experts warn. It’s the undermining of trust in the electoral process that is so insidious. Quartz broke down the process in America based on seven criteria: “voting convenience, identification requirements, poll hours, registration deadlines, registration restrictions, registration-drive restrictions, and preregistration rules.” In one way or another, building voting systems on blockchain can address each of these.
Last week at RChain we had our annual Board of Directors election. This year, the entire process was on-chain, thanks to our partners (and portfolio companies), Netvote and Govurn. In this week’s RCast, I first speak with Netvote founder and director, Jonathan Alexander, who has interesting insights into how blockchain can transform voting, including a controversial notion: incentivizing voting for a tax credit (or some other means, such as tokenizing the voting process). Nations like Australia penalize non-voters, which increases turnout. Perhaps rewarding voters might even be a better idea. Humans don’t operate at their best when under threat.
My talk with Jonathan is followed by a chat with another forward-thinking voting reformer, Govurn CEO and co-founder, Karl Kurrle, who happened to be at the Crytpo Invest Summit in downtown Los Angeles last week. We both caught Steve Wozniak’s keynote speech, where he announced that he was most hopeful that blockchain would be applied to voting. Considering the fact that he knows a bit about technology, we’re all hopeful his dream is realized. Democracy might just depend on it.