Thailand’s Democrat Party, the country’s main opposition party has become the first major political party in the world to carry out primary elections entirely on a blockchain.
Using a live e-voting system powered by the Zcoin blockchain, the party successfully conducted its primaries which involved more than 120,000 voters between November 1 and November 9. In an election of many firsts, it also marked the first time that a major Thai political party selected its leader using input from the generality of party members ahead of the country’s first general election since the 2014 military coup.
Growing Influence of IPFS and Zcoin in Thailand
A few days ago, CCN reported that a Thai rap music video “Rap Against Dictatorship”, which turned into a viral sensation with more than 30 million views in two weeks became the first known piece of political resistance music to be stored using a blockchain following threats of government censorship against the YouTube video. Using IPFS, a decentralised file storage system, an unknown user saved a copy of “Rap Against Dictatorship” in a transaction on the Zcoin blockchain which is built on the Zerocoin protocol.
The Thai Democrat party took this concept a step further, using IPFS to revolutionise the process of maintaining election record integrity. Voters were able to take part in the process using either a mobile voting app that required photo ID submission or manual voting at physical voting stations operating on a Raspberry Pi system.
IPFS was then used to store encrypted data packets containing identification documents and voting tallies. The hashes were then stored on the Zcoin blockchain, guaranteeing their immutability and auditability to both the Thai Election Commission and Democrat Party candidates.
Speaking about the Democrat Party elections, Poramin Insom, Founder & Lead Developer of Zcoin said:
“I am very proud that Zcoin played a role in making Thailand’s first large scale e-vote, a reality, which saw greater voter participation and transparency. […] I believe we’ve achieved a huge milestone in our country’s political history and hope that other political parties or even the government not just in Thailand but in the region can look to using blockchain technology in enabling large scale e-voting or polling.”
Whereas previously a small group of around 250 MPs and party branch chairmen would select the leader of the party who would be the presidential candidate, the use of blockchain technology has now enabled more than 120,000 party members nationwide to make the decision for the first time.
Key Operating Details
In a keenly contested race with potentially huge implications for the country ahead of next year’s election, former Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva defeated his closest challenger Warong Dechgitvigrom, polling 67,505 votes to Warong’s 57,689. Prior to the election, Vejjajiva had spoken about the importance of opening up Thailand’s democratic process, and the success of the blockchain deployment is likely to have a significant impact on the wider electoral framework of Thailand and other countries with similar circumstances around the world.
Information from the Democrat Party reveals that encryption keys used in the voting process were split using a cryptographic method called Shamir’s Secret Sharing Scheme, which ensures that consensus is needed in order to decrypt the full set of voting data. Voter ID documents could only be decrypted by an accredited official from the Thai electoral commission or a representative of the Democrat Party in order to verify voter eligibility.
Most significantly, voting data could only be decrypted with full consensus agreement from all five parties concerned namely, three representatives of each candidate, the Thai Election Commission and the Democrat Party.
The voting activity spanning the November 1-9 voting period can be observed on the Zcoin blockchain explorer here.