Blockchain for Elections?
Blockchain in 2018 can be called a magic bullet, a solution to many problems and also a problem for every existing government. The “decentralized network” offering of blockchain tech has made most organizations rethink their views on the technological innovation with multiple use cases. Blockchain technology can be incorporated into voting systems for improvements that will be discussed in this article.
The implementation of blockchain technology in voting systems has been discussed for about a year. Elections involving huge numbers and voters from different locations are difficult to manage as people have to reach different polling booths on the day of voting. This is a classic problem with our modern-day voting systems and the subject of most debates on electoral processes. The three major issues of fraud, security breach and corruption are the fundamental problems that a blockchain based voting system can solve.
How Can Blockchain-Based Voting Systems Improve Elections?
Since blockchain technology basically creates transparent decentralized networks, voting systems based on it would be transparent ones. The nature of blockchains makes it possible for any individual or entity to verify information on it for themselves. This, however, creates a problem when it comes to secret ballot elections. Being able to verify who or what one has voted for means that one can prove to whoever wants to buy his votes that he has actually voted for a particular person. This problem could, however, be so fixed by obscuring the identity of voters on the publicly available information on the blockchain.
Bringing this level of transparency to elections would help reduce the occurrence of electoral fraud.
With Blockchain-based elections, vote counting becomes much easier. This is not the case in most elections where ballot papers are physically counted. Problems can and do arise when counting is done this way. Ballot boxes do get missing and fake ballot papers sometimes find their way into the boxes. With a blockchain, the counting would be automatically done by the system and thus remove potential problems arising from the physical counting of ballot papers.
Kaspersky’s Blockchain-Based Voting System
A practical example of a blockchain-based voting system was created by Kaspersky Lab. According to Irish Tech News, back in November 2017, the company launched a blockchain based online voting system called Polys. This is what the company’s website has to say on the system they created:
“Voting imposes extremely stringent requirements on the security of every aspect of voting. We believe that the blockchain technology is the missing link in the architecture of a viable online voting system.”
With such a system, voters would no longer have to be physically present at polling stations in order to vote.
First Blockchain-Based Elections in West Virginia
The United States of America became the first country to try the much discussed, blockchain-based elections. It was, however, only available for active-duty military personnel and other eligible candidates. In West Virginia, the federal primary elections were conducted last week. A lightweight blockchain-based voting application was used. Only voters who were eligible as “Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act” voters, were able to cast their vote, according to Modern Consensus.
Voatz, a company based in Boston was the facilitator of the federal primary election. A spokesperson for the company in a conversation with Modern Consensus stated:
“One particular overseas voter voted for the first time in over 15 years, so that was particularly heartening for us and a small indicator of the potential impact of this new platform.”
The blockchain technology is used in various areas. It may not be perfect yet but with time and improvements, we should see more effective solutions in areas the technology is being used. Its use in Elections is of course included.