The recent Telos Foundation board elections were a landmark achievement. They showed the power of Telos’ governance to our community and the entire blockchain ecosystem.
Our elections took place entirely on-chain with the help of the groundbreaking Telos Decide governance engine. Using Decide Voter, an app developed by block producer Goodblock, the voting process of this election was entirely transparent, secure, and as easy as clicking a few buttons on the mobile app.
In this article, we will break down the significance of the recent on-chain Telos Foundation board elections. Exploring the technical details of the election process will show how these elections have been, as one of the new board members put it, one of the cleanest transfers of governmental power, ever.
If you’ve been around Telos for some time now, you’ll know that we’ve written in the past about the history of the elections at the Telos Foundation. If you need context, read these articles, get caught up, and then rejoin us here. We’ll wait!
Part 1 : TF History & Structure Updates
Part 2 : Running & Voting
Part 3 : Timeline & Expectations
Part 4 : Election Candidates
Part 5: Meet the Telos Foundation Board
Let’s dive in!
Let’s start with the basics. The Telos Foundation board elections were run entirely on-chain using a series of smart contracts. What does it mean that we used a smart contract, you ask? It means that the whole process, from nomination to voting to transferring power, was carried out in an autonomous and transparent manner.
“The smart contract that ran the election is written in C++, and it’s pretty advanced,” said newly-elected TF board member J.T. Buice. “There is a lot of functionality to the contract, not only for elections. It will also allow for voting within the TF to happen on-chain.”
All of this is possible thanks to Telos Decide, a powerful governance engine that exceeds the capabilities of all other major blockchains. Telos is the ESG blockchain, after all, which you can read more about here. And you can learn more about how Telos Decide works by reading through the documentation.
The benefits of running the election through smart contracts are numerous. From a technical standpoint, smart contracts ensure that elections are carried out entirely on-chain.
“It’s all publicly verifiable too, which is pretty awesome,” said new board member Kevin Quaintance. “This contract is out there on the chain. You can see all the tables, you can see all the board members, and all the actions that we did to run the election. All those parameters are in the contract.”
Once the voting timeline closed on Jan. 5th, the smart contract’s parameters were met. That’s when the code ran in order to close the voting period. As well, the smart contract assigned the top nine candidates to have cosigning permission for the TF Telos account. You can see for yourself here on the EOS Authority Block Explorer.
Importantly, the Telos Foundation works on a ⅔+1 consensus model. This means that at least seven of the newly elected Telos Foundation members must sign off on how the TF account and its funds are allocated.
Any of the other actions from the election, from nominations to the ending of the voting period, can be explored through scanning through the TF account on a block explorer.
“I love that it’s all publicly verifiable, all on the chain,” said Quaintance. “No ambiguity, no confusion. Just go on the chain and you can see who can sign what, and see all the actions that took place.”
And, again, all of this takes place automatically as opposed to manually handing over keys, permissions, or tools.
“That's the value of a smart contract,” said Telos’ chief architect and Goodblock founder Douglas Horn. “That's what blockchain governance will ultimately go to. Similarly, if you have a funding proposal that passes, you do not need any other person to transfer the funds that you've won, like through our worker proposal system Telos Works. The smart contract ensures that.”
So what does this blockchain governance mean for the broader Telos ecosystem and the overall crypto space? In short, it changes the blockchain governance game and sets a new standard for on-chain elections.
Running elections on-chain through a smart contract, along with the use of the Decide Voter mobile app, removes access barriers and the opacity traditionally associated with elections.
Take for example that a third party, board candidate Filip Poverund, was able to run numbers and verify that only one board member would have been elected differently had the election process been run on a one account, one vote basis rather than stake weighted voting.
Let’s break down what those different voting types mean first. A voter in this board election used their staked TLOS tokens to give weight to their votes, which matched across all candidates. Making the most of your TLOS in the election meant casting your vote for nine candidates rather than just one or two candidates.
The elections ran based on staked voting rather than a one account one vote method, a common method of voting in many democratic national elections. And so the Telos Foundation elections highlight one the most pressing issues facing blockchain governance today: can a blockchain election be captured by token whales ?
For those unfamiliar with the term, “token whales” refer to accounts with a vast number of tokens. And because on Telos each one of those tokens represented a vote in the election, voices with more stake in the Telos network’s were louder than others. But these are the problems that one deals with on the forefront of a groundbreaking question of blockchain governance.
“Forward-looking, and being open-eyed about what we need to worry about and solve for, that’s something that is interesting,” said new board member Chris Barnes. “How do we iterate to make this an uncapturable system? How do we prevent the whales and big money from buying up these chains and owning them ?”
That work is part of an iterative process that improves with real-world use cases like the Telos Foundation board elections. The elections ran on a staked voting election due to concerns of spam, caused by Telos accounts being created to cash in more votes and ultimately influence the election.
“That's one of the reasons why we're working hard on the Telos ID system,” said Horn. “It helps ensure that each person is a unique person and doesn't have 10 identities. So once we have that, then we can then use this as a one person, one vote system.”
But while we should always look to improve our governance tools and technologies, we can celebrate the incredible accomplishment the election represents. “It was by far the cleanest handoff of power of any election that probably anyone has seen in the world,” said Buice. “It just happened automatically.”
And the use cases for Telos Decide and Decide Voter have the potential and usability to expand beyond governance in the blockchain space to blockchain governance in the world.
“We’re using our own product and our own code internally,'' said Buice. “But nothing is stopping other groups, for example a homeowner’s association, from using this to make governance more transparent. You can move up to city council, a school board. We may not skip all the way to a presidential election, but this is a really good start.”
Want to try out the power of the Telos Decide governance engine for yourself? Download the Telos Decide Voter Mobile app on Apple or Android and start using it today. Join the Telos Governance Token group and you can cast your vote in any number of elections, worker proposals, and governance amendments on Telos.
Decide Voter was coordinated and developed by block producers Goodblock and TheTelosCrew. If you like the work that they do, consider casting a vote for them next time you vote for block producers!