Zug, the small city in Switzerland that has gained the reputation of being the Silicon Valley of cryptocurrency, is to test using blockchain technology to organise elections this summer, according to swissinfo.ch.
Between the 25th of June and the 1st of July, voters will be able to vote using blockchain technology on a number of relatively trivial issues, namely their opinion on fireworks at an annual festival and whether digital ID should be implemented at local libraries. They will also be asked their opinion of the blockchain voting system.
The voting process will be facilitated by the eID system which is in use in the city. This system was implemented in November 2017 and is unique because it runs on a blockchain. Once registered, residents can access city services (such as the tax, employment, road traffic and child protection departments) through their electronic devices because the city is also registered on the same blockchain. It is through this system that residents will be able to vote using their mobile phones.
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This is only a test, and so the results will not be binding. It should also be noted that the eID system only has about 200 users at the moment. However the test is significant because Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest countries and Zug specifically punches above its weight in terms of influence in the cryptocurrency world because of the Crypto Valley Association, an organisation that promotes blockchain technology by facilitating research, organising industry events and providing networking opportunities to startups. It was created in March 2017 by a coalition of companies including Thomson Reuters, UBS, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Bitcoin has been accepted as payment in the city since 2016, and Ethereum has its headquarters there. In January of 2018 Bitmain, a Chinese company that was at the time responsible for over 40 percent of the world’s Bitcoin mining, set up a subsidiary in Zug.
If the city council eventually decides to have its actual elections via blockchain, this could set a far-reaching precedent. In addition to this, a wider transition to blockchain technology in Switzerland would not be too daunting because thousands of Swiss citizens are already using electronically registered IDs.