Can Blockchain Be Used to Fix Elections?
Most people in the blockchain world believe that blockchain technology can fix election/voter fraud and mishandling and other issues such as long queues at the voting stations by making the voting process more secure, more accessible, and increasing citizens’ capability to perform their civic duties. Blockchain technology provides a platform that can be used to create a highly secure, anonymized, encrypted, transparent, and decentralized yet auditable chain of records comparable to the systems currently used in cryptocurrency.
Two computer scientists from Ontario-based universities, Jeremy Clark and Aleksander Essex introduced the concept of CommitCoin that promoted the idea that blockchain technology can enhance security and validate the voting process. CommitCoin offers a technique of securing each voter’s votes without allowing the election official or political individuals to change votes. Thus, the technology provides a solution to the major challenge of voter fraud affecting most global elections, including the US.
How Can Blockchain Technology Help Improve the Voting Process?
One easy way to understand the blockchain is by defining it as a digital ledger. In this case, blockchain technology uses the nodes on its network to verify, process, and record transactions occurring across the system. Although the model does not support storing the ledger, the transactions exist within the network chain supported by the nodes (or peers). Therefore, each transaction is verifiable. The use of encryption and decentralization makes the records incorruptible. A single party, such as a political candidate or party, cannot influence or take down the network since the transactions are not stored in a single place.
The current voting systems use the traditional systems, where one has to leave their homes to cast a vote. In a time of dramatic technological advancements such as self-driving cars, why do people have to line up for hours to vote? Building a blockchain-based electronic voting system can eliminate this problem while at the same time eradicating manipulation and fraud. No single body or government will have control over the voting data since it will be distributed over multiple nodes within the network. For example, Donald Trump believed that the US 2020 elections were “rigged.” In an article published by Aljazeera, Trump publicly stated that “ballots were dumped all over the place and many horrible things happened.” This argument reflects the possibility of vote manipulation under the existing traditional voting systems. Embracing blockchain-based online voting can increase transparency and reduce cases of fraud. Consequently, the election results will be deemed free and fair since people will believe in the legitimacy of the election winners.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded a trial project in 2019 to develop and test a blockchain-powered electronic voting system. The project’s primary goal was to assess the verifiability features of online voting systems. The ability to verify that a vote has been cast and counted towards the results is a critical condition that should be satisfied in online voting. The pilot project used Civica Election Services’ voting system and the Verify My Vote platform to provide verifiability features.
The blockchain technology in the Verify My Vote platform allowed voters to verify that their votes were recorded accurately and counted while still maintaining anonymity. Besides, they could verify the accuracy of the results without undermining the secrecy of the ballot. Thus, embracing such technology can support the election body’s capability to engage other trustees to oversee the elections to increase the voters’ trust and faith in the process.
Blockchain-Based Electronic Voting System Will Boost Integrity and Fairness
Blockchain technology allows the establishment of rules that can increase the fairness and integrity of the voting process. For example, the blockchain-based electronic voting system will eliminate issues of postal ballots being lost en route and delayed. It would increase accessibility to the system and reduce the time taken to count votes. The rules of the online voting system can be designed to meet the specific primary conditions that a voting system should satisfy, including;
- Emphasizing eligibility to ensure that only legitimate voters participate in the process
- Ensuring that each voter casts a vote once
- Maintaining voters’ privacy to ensure their choices are not accessible to other people
- Detecting invalid ballots in time to ensure they are not accounted for during tallying
- Verifying that all complete/valid ballots are tallied and included in the announced results
With blockchain technology, most problems facing the e-voting systems, such as transparency, auditability and safety of the voting records, can be solved. Besides, the system can eliminate traditional processes and increase people’s trust in election authorities and voting processes. Without constant misinformation and violence associated with elections, the world can be a better place.
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