Democracy beyond voting: new tools for popular participation
Whenever we have elections, that feeling of powerlessness with politics comes creeping in, and it is usually in this kind of context that we hear about the need to participate more in democracy, going beyond simply voting. The problem is that, no matter how well-intentioned we are, we usually do not even know how to BEGIN doing it!
I don’t have all the answers here, but I do have some suggestions as to how we can increase our participation in public life. They involve, of course, the use of technology – and more specifically, blockchain technology! So if you are slightly desperate with the political situation in your country and looking for some ideas, make sure to check out this post!
What does technology have to do with democracy?
The impact of technology on our daily lives seems to be quite clear. What is not necessarily so easy is to recognize how the same tools you use to share memes with your friends or watch cat videos on Youtube can be mobilized for political action.
To put it simply, technology can make the mechanisms of participation in democracy much more interactive, transparent and open. Thus, voters can participate more and monitor more closely the actions of the public administration. In Brazil, for example, the majority of the population owns a smartphone (with about 94% of the population being covered by 3G or 4G networks in more than 200 million devices!), so the opportunity to use these new platforms to increase democratic participation is huge.
Imagine, for example, a highly connected and engaged councilman. He could create an application to let his constituents know about new votes, to tell about his position on issues being discussed at City Hall and even to ask for feedback from his voters. Along the same lines, initiatives such as government transparency portals and the possibility of accompanying, via live television, the work of the Legislative and High Courts, make clear to the public what is happening in the country.
And where does blockchain fit into all of this?
Many people are familiar with blockchain technology because of cryptocurrencies, but it is by no means limited to them. Instead, it can be used to increase the efficiency of the music industry or to reduce fraud in a company, and to track humanitarian aid and record other relevant information, among many other uses! It can even be used for the elections, and you can see the advantages of this use in the video below (it has English subtitles, don’t worry).
To summarize it, the blockchain is a distributed and decentralized database, which can be used to store several types of files in a linear and immutable way. It is this latter feature, which means that the data recorded in the system cannot be modified or deleted, one of the main factors that makes it so attractive to deal with the public administration and improve democracy. It represents, therefore, an interesting mechanism to create more trust and transparency in the government. Check some cases below!
Publishing data about Congress’ activities
If you wanted to know how the congressman you voted for is working, what would you do? Would you even know where to find the data on the bills he’s voting, on his assiduity, or even how much public money he is receiving and spending?
With the blockchain, these and other information could become much easier to track, being recorded in real time and in an immutable system. In theory, it would be possible to create a portal with all this data, making it easier for the citizens to follow the comings and goings of their representatives. Who knows, maybe you’ll even start to care who you voted for Congressman, huh?
Making better transparency portals
The data stored and made public doesn’t need to be just about politicians, but can deal with the procedures of the public administration in general, especially the ones related to its budget and spending. By law, this information must be available in government transparency portals, but nothing guarantees that the data placed there now will necessarily correspond to the truth!
Now consider blockchain, which allows information to be disclosed in real time and automatically through smart contracts. Using extensions, public authorities can, for example, automatically enter bids, budget changes and records on hiring new servers.
All this data will be stored on a more accessible system, which can be verified and searched with agility and precision. In this way, public auditing gains much more quality: detecting phantom employees and the wasting resources or fraud, for example, will be done more actively by both judicial bodies, and journalists and the general public.
Popular initiative is a very important instrument for democracy. With them, if a certain percentage of the electorate signs the petition, it will necessarily have to be discussed by the legislature (in Brazil, we need one percent of voters). Today, however, this process comes up against logistical bottlenecks. At a national level in Brazil, for example, it is necessary to collect the signatures of more than one million and seven hundred thousand people!
This not only generates a huge amount of paper – the Lei da Ficha Limpa (Clean Record Act), for example, has resulted in almost TWO TONS of paper – but also brings with it the difficulty of checking that the signatures collected are valid, which is definitely not an easy task.
Or, at least, it didn’t use to be. With the Mudamos+ (We Change+) application, which uses OriginalMy’s Blockchain ID technology to verify the identity of the voters, it is possible to ensure the legal integrity and validity of signatures, making the whole process of creating popular initiative bills much safer and efficient!
The possibilities of the blockchain for to help us participate more in the democracy of our countries are many, mainly by opening up the black box that usually is the national politics. With it, the public administration becomes more transparent and participatory, giving citizens the means to consult data and propose ideas, with much more agility and security!
So, did you like this post? What other applications you see for blockchain in democracy? Let us know how you think it can applied in your country!