Vote for Blockchain [Voting]

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

George Levy

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While the internet has been around for nearly two decades, our society has failed to devise a reliable, fraud-proof way to implement a digital voting system. As it stands, our current election process is not particularly conducive to the act of casting a vote. Many people refuse to take the time off on a weekday in order to make it to their polling centers. Furthermore, finding a polling place can be difficult, and mailing in a ballot can often slip someone’s mind.

Inconvenience aside, as voter fraud becomes increasingly common, officialshave been working tirelessly to strengthen the defenses of state election infrastructure. Although progress has been made, we've still got a ways to go before ensuring all systems are well-secured.

Nowhere has the cry for digital voting been louder than in the United States, and as voting rates for citizens continue to stagnate, using blockchain to preserve the integrity of digital votes can help meet the needs of our digitized society..

A blockchain is a digital ledger that keeps a permanent record of every transaction in a secure and immutable way. Because of this, tracking the results of an election using blockchain technology can keep a permanent record of every vote cast in a non-modifiable way. Blockchain provides a single “source of truth” of what happened in elections that cannot be tampered with. This can be used to deliver an audit of the entire voting record, and mathematically prove that the results of the election are accurate. Some additional advantages include:

  • Transparency: blockchain technology affords us the ability to have full transparency of every vote cast, and to see the entire results of the election by analyzing the data in that blockchain. Because blockchain uses cryptography and each voter would have a unique vote which can only be cast by using that voter’s individual private key, it is possible to preserve the privacy of voters while making sure that each voter can only cast one vote.
  • Convenience: by using blockchain technology, voters can vote remotely by using their mobile devices instead of having to go to a polling place. This can help reduce the cost of elections, and make for better ballot accessibility and convenience. As an example of this capability, the state of West Virginia is offering digital voting secured by using blockchain technology, accessible via a mobile app to overseas military members in the upcoming elections.

Some of the challenges of implementing blockchain technology include that it is a new technology and as a result, voters need to learn how to use the technology properly. Additionally, there are possible security challenges such as the possibility of having malware installed on the mobile devices which voters use, and what the process will be for authenticating that the person voting is in fact the individual casting the vote.

While every new technology has the potential to introduce vulnerabilities into a process, blockchain technology has proven itself secure by being used in Bitcoin since 2009 to enable billions of dollars in wealth to exchange hands daily between parties, securely and directly over the Internet. This same type of secure exchange of value can be applied to the process of voting, therefore enabling people to securely cast their valuable electoral votes.

Flash forward 5 years and we will surely see a much wider use of this technology. In fact, we are already seeing steps towards blockchain voting making its way into the electoral process both in the United States and internationally. For example, California has dedicated $134.3 million towards installing new voting systems, and for Research and Development leading up to the 2020 elections. In a February 2018 interview with Forbes,California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated “Technologies like blockchain provide insight into what's possible and where conversations about election security might go.” In addition, West Virginia Secretary of State, Mac Warner, reported a successful first instance of remote blockchain voting in an official announcement on Nov. 15. Warner stated that in the 2018 midterm elections, 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties were able to cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform. While the future is uncertain, if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that the current voting system is ripe for change and blockchain will likely play a large role in the evolution of our electoral processes. 

About the author: George Levy is an award winning Udemy instructor on blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency. George is on a mission to spread and grow the impact of blockchain technology globally.

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