Blockchain And Election System

In the era of technological advancements like hyperloop, driverless cars, drones, the election system must be advanced to reduce hassle and improve transparency as well as the participation of voters.

West Virginia became the first U.S. state to enable internet voting with the help of Blockchain technology in primary elections. While the voters’ participation was less, but the purpose of administrators was solved. They aimed to test the technology in a pilot project and explore the pros and cons of Blockchain technology in election systems.

In this article, let’s discuss how blockchain technology can evolve election systems.

Challenges In Election System | Blockchain And Election Transparency

Election-related processes are still a paper-based system in most countries, leaving open huge security holes that could contribute to fraud, corruption, and even invite interference from nation-state-backed hacktivists.

The protection of election processes includes security of registration database, voting machines, systems reporting & displaying voting results, and critical voting infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Elections are under peril from wicked actors that can infiltrate voting machines, reconstruct voter registration databases, coordinate fake campaigns, and more.

Blockchain technology could help in reinventing the election system. Let us discuss the major challenges in the system:

Before Election

Dissemination of Fake News

Before the voting, dismantled opinions spread through various media especially social media in form of fake videos, voice notes, and many more. Due to these targeted disinformation campaigns, voters face confusion in discovering fact-based sources and explicitly notifying their vote. Digital hoaxes spread in the pre-election stages have a profound effect on the outcomes of the election.

Hacked Registration Database Of Voters

The ability and civic duty of citizens to vote gets affected after the attack of the registration database of voters. These databases often contain personally identifiable information like names, addresses, phone numbers, and more. An attack that destroys an entire state’s registration database could slow or even stop an election process. Hackers sell the data online in prohibited black web markets or utilize it to target voters with disinformation and evangelism.

During Election

Hacking Of Voting Machine

At the time of the election, hackers could temper results after exploiting the vulnerabilities in the machinery of voting systems. If the voting system digitally depends on any device, then it is vulnerable to cyberattacks or hacking. The major problem of the digital system is that threat is not associated with a single system but with an entire class of systems involved in the voting process just by attacking one point of disruption, thereby affecting millions of votes at once.

After Election

Misleading Election Reporting System

Researchers at the Belfer Center of Harvard advocated that once the news related to outcomes of elections, attackers might manipulate the data and trick the news into announcing the wrong winner.

The election system is tainted even in advanced democracies with accusations of fraud or external influence and the application of technology to eliminate rigging.

Blockchain And Election Transparency

Electoral committees all across the world are considering blockchain technology as a solution to ensure election integrity and promote confidence in elections. Blockchain voting use-cases continue to captivate the attention of media due to the advantages like security, transparency, and efficiency of a distributed ledger.

Before Election

Verification By Cryptographic Techniques

Cryptographic techniques ensure the security of the Blockchain network and accountability of the source of digital content. Voters must trust the media marked with a unique cryptographic identifier as it can justify the origin of media after cross-referencing with immutable records on a blockchain.

Deploying a blockchain system for media verification in coordination with the government and non-governmental institutions can improve transparency at the pre-election stage.

Blockchain Voting With Mobile Apps

Infidels advocated that internet voting is insecure and that mobile superimposes layers of complexity which can further disintegrate the security and transparency of the election process. Defenders of mobile voting suggest that making elections available via mobile devices secured with blockchain technology could increase the participation of voters.

For instance, Voatz app practices facial recognition to verify voters’ identities, compliant with West Virginia’s laws. Polled votes are saved on the blockchain, inside the “digital lockbox” in the cloud which is made extra-tamper-proof via immutable distributed ledger technology. On the day of the election, county authorities can unlock and collect the votes for tabulation.

Startups developing blockchains for elections include Votem, Follow My Vote, Votebox, and XO.1.

During Election

Digital Identification

Blockchain technology works on the decentralized model of consensus mechanism where the participants connected to the network authenticate the transactions.

Blockchain technology could help in the management of voter identities with the permissioned distributed ledger. Blockchain election systems require a combination of identity data like government-issued IDs and biometric data gathered during online registration for matching a voter with his or her digital identity in a government voter registration database. The government can designate a consortium of universities, non-governmental organizations, and others whose consensus authenticates identity and manages which voters can vote.

Beyond the secure database use-case, mostly blockchain elections with extra layers of technology can efficiently validate voters’ identity, retain ballots secretly, and let voters track and validate votes.

After Election

Audit Mechanism

Blockchain technology also extends voters’ transparency. Given the anonymous nature of blockchain, votes can be tracked, counted, and compared with various sources while maintaining their privacy. As blockchain records are immutable, any vote cast would not be subject to deletion. Instead, auditors could confidently count and verify all votes.

A blockchain voting system would also offer an encrypted result system to encourage transparency and maintain privacy.

With a public blockchain, it would permit every voter to audit each ballot to verify that reported polled votes are correct, without disclosing the identity or vote choice of each voter.

Blockchain voting startups Votem and Voatz offer systems that allow voters to verify their votes. Voters cast ballots and get QR codes attached to their votes. By scanning the QR code with another device, voters can convince themselves that it properly recorded their vote.

Summing Up

Using blockchain for elections is worth more than just an experiment.

  • Accessibility for citizens to vote while abroad, irrespective of the distance and time can be increased.
  • Election commission can sustain transparency in the electoral process,
  • Reduce the cost of conducting elections, streamline counting votes and guarantee that all votes are counted.
  • All data of the election process can be recorded on a publicly verifiable ledger while keeping the anonymity of voters.

In the future, we could see security experts and election officials gather to develop election infrastructure and processes that would be based on Blockchain technology.

Blockchain And Election System was originally published in DataDrivenInvestor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.