Speaking to people in Nigeria, we have been inspired by the determination of voters to improve the voting system, to ensure that people are kept safe during the process. One personal story from @ForlanCrypto_P - really hit home with our team:
Here is his story:
"The year 2015 was actually my first time to vote. Though I was eligible to vote in 2011, my voter's card wasn't ready prior to the election day, even though I registered over 6months prior.
I woke up on a High Spirit and left my by 7am for my polling unit. On getting to my polling unit, I saw some elderly & old men who came much earlier I, some standing while some were sitting on the roots of a big tree.
We waited till 10:30am before INEC officials allocated to our unit resumed for work. I was already disappointed cos I stood for all those hours. I wanted to go home, but then, I decided to see it all through because those elderly persons were old enough to be my grandparents but they still waited patiently to exercise their franchise.
Then we were informed that accreditation would start, but the Card Reader Machine began to malfunction. The party agents present at the polling unit told one of the serving INEC officials to begin usage of manual accreditation. The young INEC official assented to the idea but 2 party agents stood up & opposed the idea vehemently. To me, these party agents who wanted manual accreditation were enemies of our democracy for they wished the Card Readers shouldn't work so that their evil plans will succeed. All I wished for was that there would be ballot snatching, an absence of result sheets, cancellation or postponement of elections & other discrepancies.
Well, manual accreditation later started & voting began by exactly 5pm. That was a hell of something else. A young friend of mine already warned me ahead, so I was kind of prepared for all these irregularities. She gave me an account of her experience & swore never to vote again. Well, I don't blame her. Our electoral system is messed up. There was a lot of rumpus. The party agents never worked together to ensure a unified election. It was all about personal & party interest all along. They called out some voters aside and offered them some money to vote for their candidates. Whether they accepted the money or not, I don't know but I think that bcos of my corporate dress code, they didn't even think of coming close to me not to even think of buying my vote."
We wanted to produce a product that would serve the community and the organisations within the next 4 years to solve the issues of safety, accessibility and processes associated with gathering information.
What it does
When registering to vote, voters simply tick the “vote from home” + verify their mobile number Once registered, voters verify their identity using BVN and practise casting a vote without submitting any data. On the big day, when the polls open and the USSD code will become active. Voters can cast their vote anonymously on their phone using their PVC, BVN and password. The system allows for real-time automated tally, so that voter knows their vote counted!
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
Navigating a problem in which we have no personal experience in, the level of research required to understand the different demographics, our target market and the interaction of current stakeholders.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our working demo and collaboration between a diverse group of team members. We will 100% be doing a hackathon again together!
We are also proud of our collaboration with people on the ground, who have experienced voting. On day one we ran an outreach program on social media to consult with a local Nigerian, who we are honoured to have on our team.
What we learned
Diversity in teams is important for creating a user design-focused product.
A solution may seem great at first but, be aware of the barriers to implementation and dont be afraid to change your build direction.
What's next for #MyVoteMyWay
Research into the possibilities of utilising distributed ledger technology and smart contracts to process data gathered from the SMS.
While blockchain technology is currently in its infancy, there is the potential to utilise a combination of permissioned based distributed ledger technology combined with a public blockchain to collate voting data, automate the tally process and transparently update results. Following the implementation of USSD voting, the next step would be to explore bridging technology that would allow for telecom data to be stored on a blockchain that will enable different stakeholders to interact with data, in a fully auditable and transparent manner, for example, R3 or Hyperledger Fabric.
The next stage would be to issue voters with public and private keys to submit their future votes via SMS. The keys would be used, much like a username and password, to sign the transaction of casting a ballot. A smart contract could be designed to encrypt the public and private key and "hide" the elections until all votes have been cast or until the voting time elapses. The "vote tallying" smart contract would automate tallying and present only the final result on the public blockchain, for all to see.
In theory this is possible; however, much research is required to look at the current viability.