Influencing Traditional Voting With Blockchain

Deepa Ramachandra
Sep 10, 2020 · 6 min read

In my previous post, I had attempted to enumerate the benefits of using Blockchain technology in addressing the pain points of traditional voting. In this post, I have tried to explore this concept further and illustrate how Blockchain can be leveraged in every stage of the election process.

Election Image Via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

The ceaseless pandemic has forced every industry to innovate their use of technology and find new ways of running the business with minimum disruption. Challenges with conducting elections during these uncertain times are not any different. Traditional voting predominantly involves people standing in long queues in front of their designated polling stations and casting their choice using paper or electronic ballots. In today’s setting, finding contactless alternatives to in-person voting has become vital. Ensuring the election integrity and safeguarding its outcome even when remote voting becomes a norm is crucial. Technologies such as Blockchain have several inherent capabilities that are conducive for holding secure and yet transparent elections.

In the last couple of years, Blockchain has undergirded several elections, from Sierra Leone in 2018 to Russia in 2020. The US Postal Service (USPS) has filed a patent for a Blockchain voting system. The USPS is reportedly contemplating Blockchain as a feasible option for managing the mail-in votes that are expected to surge during the upcoming elections, due to the increased number of voters choosing to vote remotely.

Traditional voting can leverage Blockchain in every phase of the voting process

Manage Election Process

Similarly, with Blockchain systems, there are technology-specific processes that need to be managed. Firstly, authorities responsible for managing the election process are designated the role of election administrator on the Blockchain Platform. They configure the ballots, register the voters, create and activate the election, observe the voting process, close election, observe and deploy the results on the system.

Administrator nodes can create the election ballot using the decentralized apps that interact with the election smart contracts. These smart contracts have the details of the election, including the candidates and their contesting jurisdiction. Separate ballot contracts based on the candidates and the jurisdiction makes the election process further decentralized.

Voter Registration

Voters should be able to use both paper and web-based registration forms, thereby ensuring no one is left out. On ascertaining the eligibility of the registered voters, the administrators add them to the list of voters. Unique ID and PIN are then issued to the voters. They will use these IDs to attest their identity during the voting process. Leveraging mechanisms such as Zero-Knowledge Proofs will ensure that no one, including the election authorities, can recognize the voter by the IDs issued.

Voter Identity Verification

When the voter registers on a Blockchain-powered system, they can leverage the smart contracts to ascertain their identity. Voters using the applications running on Blockchain can send a hash of the ID issued to them during the registration process, which is then verified with the IDs stored in the system. Smart contracts can also check the Blockchain system and verify if the voter has already exercised their vote. On successful verification, the voters will be able to log into the application to cast their votes. However, to dissuade tracking a ballot back to the voter, the Blockchain systems storing the voter information must be kept separate from the system storing the votes information.

Vote Casting

But, with Blockchain-only or in hybrid voting where voters can choose their voting mechanism, it is crucial to prevent multiple votes by the same voter. When the voter logs into the voting application, the resulting URL can be embedded with voter-specific information and disabled once they cast their ballots. Furthermore, updating the voter Blockchain once the voter has exercised their right ensures they cannot vote again in the current elections. Finally, to encourage voter participation, voters can earn rewards for casting their votes.

Vote Recording

Micro networks

Transparent Verification

Vote Storage

Incentives

Vote Counting

The jurisdiction nodes will query and publish the vote count at each constituency level using the smart contracts. The cumulative results from all constituencies form the final tally and determine the winning party. Furthermore, Blockchain voting systems also allow post-electoral audits by the electoral administration.

Concerns with Blockchain Voting

Additionally, ensuring the validation process before vote confirmation does not disenfranchise the voters is essential. Likewise, preventing voters from casting their ballots multiple times due to slower block confirmation time is critical.

In conclusion, Blockchain technology might not be the silver bullet. At present, it might not be self-sufficient to conduct elections on a massive scale. But, the merits of the technology has the potential to improve the traditional voting processes, while maintaining election integrity and the legitimacy of its outcomes.

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Deepa Ramachandra

Written by

Website — https://deepthinks.tech/ #Blockchain #EmergingTech Enthusiast. Believe in Tech for #SocialImpact. Simplifying tech for technophobes. Views are my own.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +794K followers.

Deepa Ramachandra

Written by

Website — https://deepthinks.tech/ #Blockchain #EmergingTech Enthusiast. Believe in Tech for #SocialImpact. Simplifying tech for technophobes. Views are my own.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +794K followers.

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