Why is Blockchain-based voting system viewed as Future of Elections?
How can Blockchain Reshape the way We Vote?
After gaining huge popularity and establishing market scope in the cryptocurrency and cybersecurity, Blockchain is set to revolutionize the voting system. Some expert advocates of Blockchain say it can increase voter access to elections while improving tamper-resistance and public auditability. These factors matter because, for every democratic nation holding elections, each vote matters. However, though elections are a symbol of hope and freedom to choose, many elections are hacked, manipulated, or the data is stolen. In some countries, people refrain from taking part in elections due to privacy concerns. Whether it is paper ballot based election or EVMs or any other digital voting system, security is always the biggest concern-especially when monumental decisions at stake. Blockchain may be able to change this. It all started when in 2012, Canadian computer scientists Jeremy Clark and Aleksander Essex saw the potential of Blockchain as a medium to enhance the security and validation of the voting process.
The main question here is, ‘what makes blockchain so appealing?’ Well, the bitcoin tech’s key features, i.e., transparency, immutability, and accountability, accentuate its potential for securing elections. Further, it can help centralize the management of voter identities. Its’ Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) draws its power from nodes present on its network to verify, process, and record all transactions across the system. The best part is that the ledger is never stored, but exists on the “chain” supported by millions of nodes simultaneously. Also, Blockchain’s database of transactions cannot be altered, owing to encryption and decentralization. This also makes each record easily verifiable. Further, the blockchain-based voting application does not rely on the security of its internet connection, since hackers won’t be able to malign nodes, even when they have access to the main terminal. Blockchain purists believe that such a voting system could make it more convenient for people to vote, thereby boosting voter turnout.
Leveraging the DLT powered Blockchain voting system has already caught the attention of the European Parliament. The EPRS has already published an assessment on the applications of Blockchain for voting. A minority party in Denmark has experimented with Blockchain for an internal election. Switzerland’s Zug has tested a blockchain-based e-vote in 2019, which saw 220 citizens with a registered digital ID eligible to vote on the platform built by Luxoft and Hochschule Luzern’s Blockchain Lab.
USA’s West Virginia is planning to use a blockchain-enabled platform Voatz to allow its military workers to vote remotely and securely via from abroad. The Voatz app uses facial recognition software to confirm voters’ identities, compliant with state laws. Votes will be stored on the Blockchain, inside “digital lockbox” in the cloud. This digital lockbox is a secure cloud database that is made extra-tamper-proof using DLT. Last year, Sierra Leone became the first country to conduct a Blockchain-based voting system on March 7. The West African nation wished to create an environment of trust and transparency with the voters in a contentious election. By using Blockchain as a means to record ballots and results immutably, the country created legitimacy in the election and reduce fall-out from opposition parties.
Then in June 2019, Russian authorities planned and launched a blockchain-based electronic voting system pilot project in Moscow. The project was carried out by partnering with the Moscow City Election Commission and Moscow Department of Information Technology (DIT). While this was not a replacement for the regular voting system, however, it saved the results of e-voting using the help of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). This helped in enhancing transparency in elections and eliminating intermediaries in the electoral process. In the coming month, Russia plans to use two blockchain voting pilots in different regions of the country. One will be run by Rostelecom, the state-owned major telecom provider, and the other by the Department of Information Technologies, a branch of the Moscow city hall that ran the previous blockchain voting pilots. Even in India, the Election Commission of India announced its collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology to develop a blockchain system for voting in February this year.