A Delaware judge has advocated for using blockchain-based voting to put more power in the hands of corporate shareholders.
Delaware Chancery Court Vice Chancellor J Travis Laster spoke late last month during a meeting of the Council of Institutional Investors, a non-profit organization dedicated to institutional investment issues. In his speech, Laster took aim at the business ecosystem for proxy voting – services that enable shareholders to cast votes on corporate decisions – arguing that “the current system works poorly and harms stockholders”.
He argued that issues with the way proxy voting happens today are largely driven by the services offering them, going on to advocate that new technologies like blockchain could provide much-needed solutions.
Laster told attendees:
But Laster's remarks didn’t come out of nowhere. Earlier this year, the government of Delaware launched an initiative to use the technology as a means to streamline the business registration process in the state. The state government is working with New York-based startup Symbiont on the project.
Using the technology to facilitate elections is also a concept that has been around for some time. Today, software updates are used as a means to signal development preferences for projects like bitcoin and ethereum, and bitcoin's proof-of-work system was described by creator Satoshi Nakamoto as a kind of "vote" in the original bitcoin white paper.
In his speech, Laster went on to cite complexity in how voting systems have been constructed as a primary driver for errors, arguing that the use of blockchain could deliver greater transparency and efficiency to an otherwise opaque process. He also called for the speedy adoption of the technology in order to begin addressing some of the concerns he aired.
“Someone is going to do this,” he said. “If a judge can see it, the opportunity is pretty obvious.”
This report has been updated for clarity.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.