The Brazilian government is seeking to move popular petitions, an inefficient electoral system of the country, onto the Ethereum network, to process hundreds of millions of votes on the immutable Blockchain network.

In Brazil, popular petitions enable over 145 mln voters across the country to come to a consensus on important political decisions. But, for many decades, political experts and analysts have questioned the logistical issue of popular petitions, and political commentators have described the structural problem of the electoral system of Brazil as the basis for most of the country’s political issues.

Gabriel Barbosa, a research associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, wrote, “when people are living paycheck to paycheck, or as the common saying in Brazil goes, ‘selling their lunch to buy their dinner,’ the cost of political participation becomes high enough so that people are excluded from the political process,” emphasizing the lack of proper institutions that handle the cost of political engagement.

Move to Ethereum

As Joon Ian Wong of Quartz reported, Brazilian legislators led by Congress legislative adviser Ricardo Fernandes Paixão and university professor Everton Fraga are planning on ways to utilize the Ethereum Blockchain network to store and process electoral votes, as a part of a larger initiative to improve Brazil’s political system, which The Economist described as “sleazy.”

The key to employing a Blockchain system in processing petitions and electoral votes is to encrypt votes onto the immutable Blockchain network as transactions, to ensure that the specific piece of data remains unalterable and invulnerable to manipulation.

Essentially, processing petition signatures on the Ethereum network would require smart contracts, and the system would operate similarly as other decentralized applications that exist on the network. The electoral system of Brazil would act as a decentralized application of its own with an independent digital token, that is used to process every vote on the Blockchain.

Henrique Costa, a Universidade de Brasilia law professor, told QZ that the lack of an immutable platform to collect signatures of votes had been a real issue for the government in the past.

“In part this is due to the absence of a platform that can securely collect the signatures of one percent of voters. We’ve been through a sort of crisis regarding the legitimacy…of our laws. Although the popular initiative does exist, there is no secure way to collect people’s signatures so people can propose bills themselves.”

Within the Brazilian electoral system, any popular petition with the signatures of one percent of the country’s populations is required to be heard in Congress. But, because of the lack of an institution and a platform that handles petition votes, the group that rallies behind a particular petition also needs to find a legislator to adopt it.

Consequently, the probability of popular petitions being heard in  Congress has significantly decreased, even though many petitions have gathered signatures from the one percent of voters.

Mobile app

Currently, the Brazilian government is exploring the possibility of using a mobile app based on the Ethereum Blockchain network with which residents and citizens can submit petition votes. Since decentralized applications can operate on mobile systems, the Brazilian petition and electoral system can operate in a similar way.

Since broadcasting every single signature as a transaction of its own is highly efficient and costly, the Brazilian government will use a system called hashing to combine all of the daily votes into one transaction and broadcast it to the main Ethereum Blockchain network.

Fraga, one of the two leading advisers of the project, stated that the integration of Ethereum into the Brazilian’s inefficient and impractical electoral system would be a celebration of democracy if it passes Congress and becomes implemented. He said:

“It would be a celebration of democracy. With this project, we are doing what the constitution says, but in practice, it hasn’t [yet] happened.”