Democracy on the Blockchain: How to Make it Hackproof?

Nikita Bernstein
4 min readMar 20, 2022


Rejecting Putin
Can society reject Putin?

I’ve shared the idea of Democracy on the Blockchain (DoB?) with a few folks. Or perhaps it should be “Governance on the Blockchain” (“GoB”). The first question from several people was:

How do you prevent fraud?

The goal is not a perfect hack-proof system. Even BTC and ETH are not “hack-proof”. They are just really expensive to hack.

Thus the goal is a tool that would enable populations to self-govern and, in case of Russia, to enable society to escape being ruled by a tyrant.

In other words, the goal is to enable civilians to self-organize into a governed structure that represents civilians’ interests. When the governing body deviates from these interests, that “leadership” is made irrelevant through people simply not listening to instructions and instead switching organically to a new organization, new leadership, new modus operandi.

What’s the tactical goal?

How about “let’s not engage in active warfare”? If that takes root and everyone in onboard, they take appropriate action wherever they may be. Soldiers stop shooting. Missiles are not launched. Planes stop bombing. And so forth. Putin can sit in a bunker and bark orders, but nobody is listening. The machine stops working, because the body stops responding to the head and starts growing a new one.

As naïve as this model may seem, democracy is action as a result of consensus on shared values. The goal here is to actually turn shared values into action.

Local Groups

With that in mind, especially if voting and consensus are decentralized with an unreliable internet, we don’t start with global governance. Instead, this starts with local groups, which then roll up to global governance and recognition of values.

For example, if the chain is able to support transactions / synchronization using Bluetooth P2P, then you first end up with local consensus where each member is within 100 meters of the next person. This effectively forms small blockchain components, which then calibrate with each other in an effort to form a general consensus.

How? The Wallet

How would people do this? Why would people install this? Who Pays for This?

To maintain shared systems, we need mechanisms to pay for them. For example, in BTC or ETH you have gas fees with each transaction. Voting does not transact value, so we need to pay for it from the fabric that that governance manages. (Similar to “smart contracts”.)

Enter the Wallet: as GoB is the process of organization and is an extension of how we exchange value, it is natural that the process of voting should be done in your wallet and, should you decide to participate, there is a cost: a tax.

Note that this tax serves two purposes. The first is ensuring integrity of the vote (i.e. that you voted for choice A and not B). The second is to financially discourage introduction of fraudulent votes.

The obvious: you may have fraudulent votes skewing the system.

Yes. Bad actors may attempt to disrupt consensus. However, consider this: the current situation is so extreme, that we are voting on fundamental values. So the choice becomes “Do we do A) Good or B) Evil”. If we take that vote and a bad actor forces the system to a false state B), then people don’t do evil, because it does not reflect values on the individual level, but the leadership is able to maintain control, because the system indicates that it is not safe — the value of the majority is not visible, so you do not act on your values as doing so may be suicide.

However, the cost to maintain this false state is very high, so the system should correct itself moving into (A) Good as the bad actor runs out of money to maintain an evil state. As soon as we move into (A), there is an impetus to act.

Another consideration is Local Groups and Time. If a bad actor starts trying to introduce a false state, they would have to do it in the Local Groups, which will be many. This may make it possible to skew the global position, but it does nothing to skew local positions. Thus the body can still take action, even if some of that body is compromised.

And finally, hacking any system takes time. Rapid introduction of such a system will require some time to mount a response. That may be enough to drive change and we can figure out the rest later.

For example, War:

Let’s go back to that statement “let’s not engage in active warfare”. As this idea accumulates momentum, the system makes this value explicit. Perhaps the consensus becomes visible in Local Groups first and soldiers stop shooting in one place. Or perhaps it grows quickly to take over society and Putin is removed before he can mount an attack on the network. I don’t know what to expect… but perhaps this is worth a try?

Having spoken with friends, it seems no Russian people want war that targets civilians. They may be brainwashed or terrified or both, but nobody wants to be Hitler. Except perhaps for Putin.