Blockchain in Voting (Part 36)
Welcome to the 36th part of the 100-part series on Blockchain.
In any country, Democratic voting is the most important event that allows its citizens to exercise their power by voting and electing their representatives. And to protect this right of the citizens, conducting fair elections is the basic prerequisite for any country.
In a democratic system, every vote counts. But still, many adult citizens don’t go to cast their votes on the Election Day. They may be out of town or maybe they feel that the voting center is too far. Some might not go because they feel and believe that their vote doesn’t count because of the unfair election results. Even the responsible citizens who go to vote have to stand in long queues to cast their votes.
(i) In the current system, voting is generally done either by writing your opinion on paper or by electronic voting machines. Replacement of this traditional system is necessary to limit voting frauds and to make the voting as well as the counting process more transparent.
(ii) Further, a system is required that makes voting convenient for the voters, a system that minimizes the cost of conducting elections as money spent on the national elections is huge. A system that allows us to vote even when we are traveling abroad or are not present in our home state.
We are a society that prefers to live online right from ordering food, to booking cabs, to shopping for our daily groceries and even finding our life partners. Then why can’t we cast our votes and select our representatives with a few taps or clicks on a screen? Why can’t there be a system where we can vote online from the comfort of our homes?
Though many online voting solutions have been proposed in the past we don’t see them in reality. There are a number of challenges that such online e-voting or remote voting system faces. Let us first have a look at these challenges-
· Remote electronic voting requires stringent security measures for the voting process because in this case, the risk of large-scale manipulation is simply too high.
· There is a risk of hacking activities by hackers who could directly infect and hack the servers.
· Even the cases of coerced or influenced voting can be in large numbers.
· There is no way till date to verify if your vote has been counted in this online voting system
How voting would be done on Blockchain?
Blockchain can help to implement an electronic voting system that is immutable, transparent, and cannot be hacked into in order to change the results. Blockchain Voting is an effective means to conduct fair elections.
(i) The first and foremost step in this Blockchain-based voting system is to validate the identity of the voter. It is very important to ensure that someone’s identity is not being faked because every vote counts and is equally important. To keep a check on this the voter needs to download the remote voting booth on his mobile, laptop, or any other smart device.
(ii) After that he needs to submit his identity information which gets verified by the organization conducting these elections. The organization will refer to their database of registered voters and verify if the person is registered on their database and is eligible to vote. Then all the information of the voter will become a transaction and will be securely added to the block in the voter Blockchain. Thus, the voter’s list will be updated with all the polling stations.
(iii) After his identity is verified, a smart contract will be executed that will issue a ballot so that he can vote and submit it to the ballot box. Also, the private and public keys will be generated for each voter. The vote will be digitally signed by the private key. The digital signature + the public key of the voter are enough for nodes to verify that the private key associated with the voter has been used to make such a signature. (Digital signature has been explained in detail in Part 6). Hence, it can be proved that the vote is authenticated, and the vote has been cast by the intended voter. Since the hash function is one-way, it will only tell the registered voter has cast a vote. But there would be no way the voter’s information could be retrieved. Thus, maintaining the voter’s anonymity.
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(iv) The Blockchain used by the organization conducting elections will be a permissioned Blockchain and the consensus mechanism used can be Proof of Authority, abbreviated as PoA, in which the nodes will be pre-selected by the organization. Additionally, the nodes stake their identity and reputation for participating in the verification process. In other words, if the node is found to be performing malicious activity on the network, it causes reputational harm to them.
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(v) Blockchain-based voting system will ensure that a user does not vote multiple times. In the Blockchain-based voting system, when a voter votes, it would be considered as a transaction. After getting validated by the pre-selected nodes, the transaction would be considered a valid vote and will be added to the block. In case, the vote is found to be invalid his vote gets rejected by the polling station. Every transaction has its own unique hash. Thus, if the voter casts a vote for a second time, the hash generated will be the same. Therefore, this vote would be considered invalid and will get rejected by the nodes of the network. Thus, tackling the issue of multiple voting by a single person.
(v) And once the vote is cast, it cannot be modified because of the innate immutable characteristic of Blockchain.
(vi) The voter will be even provided with the option to print the receipt as proof of casting the vote.
(vii) Through Blockchain the voter will be able to verify that his vote has been cast and counted.
(viii) The voter can even audit each ballot in the ballot box and confirm if the election results are accurate while retaining the privacy of other voters.
(ix) In the current scenario, it takes days for the election results to come out. Further, the declared election results are prone to human error. But with Blockchain, the election results can be declared immediately after the voting is over without any chances of human error.
(x) Blockchain technology will provide the required flexibility to a voter to log in and vote from any part of the world. He just needs a phone and an active internet connection. This would encourage more and more people to vote and become a part of the democratic world where the opinion of every person matters. With this system, the valuable votes won’t get wasted.
(xi) And last but not least, this is definitely a cheaper method as compared to the current way of conducting elections.
Many countries and states are running a pilot to adopt Blockchain technology for a secure voting system for example West Virginia, Sierra Leone tested mobile voting through Blockchain in 2018.
Apart from state elections, this Blockchain-based voting system could also facilitate voting processes inside private companies, organizations, and college elections.
The technology can even be used to facilitate the process of voting in reality shows like talent hunt shows where the vote of the viewers matters the most.
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