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Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/100239928@N08/

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/100239928@N08/

In a report published today on Vice.com, writer Christopher Malmo considers the potential of using bitcoin’s trustless, consensus-based software as a means to completely reshape the one thing that’s even thornier than the finance system: Democracy.

One of the most promising applications of new crypto tech lies in creating transparent, efficient systems for making political decisions. For those who are counting on cryptocurrencies to radically shift political power back to the people’s hands, it’s worth considering that decisions about how we organize society and allocate resources are just as important as the currency we use for trading. Enter bitcoin-based voting.

At the center of Malmo’s story is a bitcoin-like voting system called Liquid Feedback, currently in use by the internet-activist European Pirate Party. The political party has used the consensus-based system since 2011 to determine the majority position on their platform. Party representative Oliver Hinck explained the appeal of the software:

I was fed up with constantly repeating discussions about copyright—so, I saw that it’s absolutely crucial to find new ways for the process of forming the political will of a group.”

The system allows each member to vote on every issue, and to have a verified and counterfeit-proof way to contribute to decisions. Although Liquid Feedback’s system only bears a slight resemblance to bitcoin’s blockchain, Vice notes that building such a system on top of the bitcoin blockchain is already in the works by several developers.

One example of this is BitCongress, which is based on the Ethereum platform. In this system, “colored” coins could be used to verify decisions by sending very small amounts to “yes” or “no” addresses on particular issues. Because the transactions are all part of the blockchain, every vote could be verified easily.

Although practical implementation of the concept is likely years away from being tested, there’s no doubt that bitcoin’s innovations are already beginning to challenge traditional thinking about how non-financial systems would work in a trustless, distributed setting.

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