Ballots and the blockchain

Jamie Skella

Jamie Skella’s Horizon State has devised a platform for the casting of votes, which he hopes will result in a direct democracy

A technologist for over two decades, Jamie Skella has spent a greater part of his life in the design, building and advising of emerging technology businesses working. And now, he has turned his attention to the issue of democracy.

Formerly executive director at MiVote, Skella is the co-founder of Horizon State, an Australian startup redesigning how societies can be engaged.

A public speaker and foresight strategist, Skella is considered one of Australia’s foremost authorities on blockchain’s applications for social good, speaking at venues ranging from the United Nations HQ in NYC to the BMW Foundation Global Table in Norway, hoping to improve community dialogue, and shrink the gap between a government and its people.

Skella’s Horizon State uses blockchain technology to let people vote in a more democratic, decentralised way. Towards this end, Horizon State has created “an unhackable ballot box”, as Skella calls it, that is connected to blockchain technology, meaning the box is secure and the result of any vote locked forever, so people can be assured of the integrity of the result. Horizon State sells their technology to companies that wish to hold a vote on something, whether it is a government or a smaller firm.

A minimum viable product is already in use, becoming the world’s first blockchain-enabled voting system used by the public. Developed for MiVote—an Australian political movement—the platform has been facilitating the casting of votes to the blockchain since February of last year.

The Horizon State platform, explains Skella, can be modelled to fit into existing voting frameworks for example, fitting electric voting machines with the technology that connects it to the blockchain. This means that when you actually cast your vote, it is sent to the blockchain as opposed to a centralised ballot calculator, meaning that the vote result is easily counted and unchangeable.

“We will simply sell this technology to a government or group who can appreciate the bottom line gains and the security of the vote,” said Skella in a recent interview, reiterating that Horizon was “not politically natured” company but a technology company.

The idea is to get people to become engaged in the decision making process, gives them a voice, said Skella. “This record of participation is decentralised—not owned by any government, institution, or individual—it is owned by the people,” he said.


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