Blockchain Voting Systems: Distributed Ledger’s Are Not Perfect, but Better Than Alternative?
Blockchains are not only about cryptocurrencies, despite Bitcoin being the instigator fo the new technology. More and more, blockchain is being looked at as a viable, and in some instances, a superior method to do a wide variety of tasks in a more efficient manner. The first wave of using blockchain outside of cryptocurrencies came with industry.
The ability to have a trustless system that organizes the supply chain and is hack-resistant and immutable made it a prime target for companies that have spent billions upgrading software and hardware alike to do a fraction of what blockchain does naturally.
The next step in the evolution of blockchain application is securing one's own identity and with that, the idea of using blockchain to vote was born. It is almost the perfect system for such a use case but there has been stiff criticism of the technology from all corners due to a few factors.
A new technology that is not understood all that well is nothing new. The same happened with the internet and home computers before that. The same happened to cars and probably many other radical implementations of technology. There is also the fear of hacking, which is a great point.
However, all these pale in comparison to the benefits blockchain could provide for voting mechanisms. No system is perfect, but if another system has a far higher ceiling, then it is surely preferable.
Increasing voter turnout would be worth trying blockchain evoting
Voters in developed countries are not voting due to apathy, while voters in developing countries do not vote out of apathy. The first is apathy due to the “wasted time” voting takes away from them and is a problem that is highlighted mainly in the United States of America. Voting apathy in developing countries is due to people think that the system is rigged from the beginning so their votes do not count.
Blockchain technology could solve both these problems, but first, we need to take a look at some fundamental components of a truly democratic voting system. These are predicated on the voting system being available online to everyone.
The first component is Completeness, which means that all people who are eligible to vote are able to vote and are counted correctly. This is particularly important in the US where the problems in Florida have led to many a voter simply not trusting counting machines at all.
Robustness is a component that ties into this fear. This is not a fear that is only prevalent in the developing world, but in the developed one as well. Only 29% of Americans were sure that the voting systems used for their election were true. Blockchain being immutable and decentralized would help alleviate this concern somewhat.
Eligibility of voters is another thing that needs to be taken into account, and this is something blockchain might not be able to help with. So long as the private key for a personal data account is around, someone will be able to use it.
Anonymity in voting is a crucial aspect of modern democracies and it is one area where blockchain, in particular, shines. If Bitcoin has proven anything, it is that you can be truly anonymous on the blockchain if you really want it. The enduring mystery of the founder of Bitcoin (Satoshi) is proof of that fact.
Participating Entities and blockchain's answer to an age-old problem
In essence, there are always three basic entities involved in a vote. There are the voters, the authorities and the counters. The problem with many voting systems around the world is that it is generally the authorities that provide oversite to the counters with the voters being only half-involved in the entire process.
Blockchain would solve this conundrum by separating the authorities and the voters with a trusted and completely impartial middleman. The voters would provide the nodes and make sure that they are playing their part in keeping the vote fair and tamper proof. The authorities would not need to trust the counters from competing parties to remain uncorrupted. It is great for both sides.
This would perhaps be the greatest triumph of making an e-voting system using blockchain. Making a clear separation of authority from the actual voting process with a system that is both impartial and decentralized. If people were able to vote from their phones, many political commentators believe that there would be greater participation in the political process.
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