A major feature of any democracy is a free and unbiased election. The outcome of the election is important in defining the future of any nation’s political landscape. To get deterministic results, elections must be transparent. Wouldn’t it be nice to vote using a secure online platform that provides transparency into elections results? There are many who believe blockchain in election voting can and will provide a new method of voting. The new method will be more secure, easier and will allow for more people to perform their basic civic duty. Elections face attacks from many factors. They can be infiltrating voting machines, alter voter registration databases, malicious actors, coordinate disinformation campaigns, and more. Now, let us see what is the problem in the current voting system.
The Problem in Current Voting System
Government elections around the world are subject to increased security threats and concerns over election integrity. The most common form of voting worldwide is still paper ballot as it is least susceptible to cyberattacks. However, it is susceptible to human error and fraud. Many countries are switching to EVMs(electronic voting machines) for this reason. But, the EVMs are vulnerable to cyberattacks due to outdated, poorly designed or implemented the technology.
Another significant challenge is getting people to vote. There is a sharp decline in the number of voter turnout around the world since the 1990s. There are approximately 230 million eligible voters worldwide who are not registered to vote. Also, those who are registered still fail to turn up to vote. The reasons can be many such as lack of identification, inaccessibility to voting booths or mistrust in the political system.
Be that as it may, multiple surveys suggest that there would be a significant increase in voter turnout if they could vote online. Let us see how.
Use of Blockchain in Elections Voting
The use of blockchain in elections voting has huge potential benefits as the world suffers election integrity problems. Blockchain’s key features such as immutability, security, and accountability drive the technology for maintaining voter registration records and recording votes safely.
In such a system, voting data are put into blocks that are subject to timestamping, encryption, and locking. It will prevent tampering and unauthorized viewing. The distributed ledger technology (DLT) makes sure there is a copy of all data on nodes across the network. Information cannot be lost, and there are no central points for cyberattacks such as database deletion or denial of service attacks.
The underlying peer-to-peer network provides a validation mechanism. It protects the integrity of the data by locking into each block. A voting application can use different identification and authentication methods to prevent voter fraud. This digitization of voter registration and voting processes makes elections cheaper and easier to run.
There are various companies that are working on blockchain solution in voting, but some have already implemented it. Let us see some cases where blockchain was used in election voting.
Voatz- State of West Virginia, 2018 Federal Elections, USA
The State of West Virginia used Voatz’s mobile voting application so that overseas voters can vote in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. A total of 144 voters from 31 countries participated in the pilot program. The Voatz application is based on blockchain technology which creates an immutable record of the votes cast. Also, it uses cybersecurity software to detect malware on smartphones and biometrics for identification and authentication.
Votem- Rock, and Roll of Fame, 2017 and 2018 Inductee Voting, USA
In the year 2017, music fans used Votem’s blockchain mobile voting platform to vote for the 2018 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Votem actually processed over 1.8 million votes without encountering any fraud, compromise, attacks or hacking of any kind. Also, it was the largest use of online voting using blockchain technology to date. In 2018 too the Votem system was in use.
Smartmatic-Cybernetica- Utah Republican Party, 2016 Presidential Candidate Election, USA
Smartmatic-Cybernetica gave the world the first blockchain-based online election technology. It was for the Utah Republican party caucus in 2016. Nearly 90% of voters registered to vote online. The platform enabled 24,486 voters to securely cast their ballots. They were from 45 different countries using their computer, tablet or smartphone.
This shows there is a wide-ranging interest in blockchain-based online voting solutions. the technology will increase voter participation and improve election security. These above examples show that blockchain technology was successful when used for both government and private elections. In all cases, the online elections took place without any security issues. Also, there was an overwhelmingly positive response from voters and participants.