Trusting elections is tough when more than two-thirds of Uruguayans surveyed believe that their politicians are corrupt, nonprofit MiVoz sees an answer in injecting innovative technology into the election process.
“The political part of our society is really old — 200 years. We were thinking that the main reason democracy exists is so that people can really feel that they are living in the society that they want”, says Leonardo Giovanetti, Technical Leader for MiVoz and the Digital Party.
Social media has programmed people to trust information found via their social networks for both good and bad outcomes. What if that interaction, trust, and energy could be harnessed in a way that allowed each voter to have a say in each political decision, instead of waiting years to weigh in during the election of a representative?
MiVoz is hoping to prove that direct democracy doesn’t have to be unwieldy or even time-consuming. By creating an effective and secure digital platform, taking part in democracy could become a more seamless part of modern lives.
Mending Trust with Digital Values like Transparency
But changes to long-established institutions and processes can take time.
For the initial phase, MiVoz is targeting Uruguay’s National Elections of 2019 and the following year’s departmental elections. They only need to sign up 30,000 people to secure a representative who will vote in accordance with how citizens vote on MiVoz’s online platform.
“We're intending to promote the usage of an online platform to bring up participation levels and to bring transparency to decision-making on financial reports, which is something that political parties here in Uruguay have lost,” says Giovanetti
As a nonprofit, MiVoz needed the most efficient and low-cost method of securely authenticating voters. But the big issue was trust. Based on past experience with political parties, citizens in Uruguay were reluctant to place their trust in yet another political party.
“We really want to let people know that they can use the tool that we're providing because it's really safe because one vote needs to correspond to one person. Auth0 was really a blessing from my perspective because it's really the best way to go,” says Giovanetti.
While MiVoz is still exploring fully digital means of uploading and validating voter credentials, currently, government-issued identification will be used to validate each voter in person via various locations throughout Uruguay. After that initial effort, Auth0 will securely authenticate voters as they sign in to access MiVoz’s platform.
Encouraging Participation through Collaboration and Delegation
The initial rollout is focused on the 2019 elections, but later plans include the ability for voters to weigh in on each decision their representative faces — including the possibility of delegating votes on topics like energy or education to close friends. “No one knows everything about every single topic,” says Giovanetti. “We're trying to provide the right tools for people to really represent themselves, sometimes through a trustee who can make a better decision than ourselves because of their background.”
Originally, MiVoz tried DemocracyOS for collecting votes, but after exploring their voting process, they shifted to Sovereign’s decentralized platform. In addition to encouraging collaboration and discussion through tools like Discourse, MiVoz plans to store credentials using blockchain accessed via an Auth0 plug-in.
“We're really passionate about making democracy for this millennium. We’re looking to involve people instead of having them vote and forget about it, but still complain on Facebook or Twitter. Our idea is to put up a platform that could really bring people together for new causes for democracy in their society.”