Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3) Talks Using Blockchain for Internet Voting
The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) have conducted research concerning whether, as some proponents claim, blockchain technology will improve internet voting. Business Insider published an article concerning the study, in which researchers argue that while the technology may serve to revolutionize other industries, internet voting may be a sector that does not benefit from the technology, but rather, it could be harmed by it.
Researchers have acknowledged that they understand why blockchain technology is considered as an option for optimizing internet voting. Blockchain has an immutable nature and as a result, elections may be less susceptible to fraud when the technology is used. However, researchers also note that the basic issues related to internet voting cannot be addressed by blockchain.
Voting from a smartphone is effective, but cybersecurity experts point out that there are complications involved. Ron Rivest, an MIT professor stated,
“voting is too important to put online.”
Blockchain technology is seen as very secure, but that does not mean that the hardware and software is not vulnerable to security issues. Further, outages can occur as well.
Security experts are working to understand how Russia interfered (if at all) in the U.S. presidential elections. Foreign governments and other adversaries may exploit technological vulnerabilities and influence elections. Internet voting, even on the blockchain, may not be able to avoid such problems.
Further, as for blockchain’s security mechanisms, they make work against blockchain. Just because the technology is secure does not mean that the computing device used to vote in the election is hack-proof. Phones can be infected with malware, which switches the vote at the last minute and blockchain will then record that vote safely – even though it is not the right one. Accordingly, the entire election can be compromised in this manner.
There is also the potential of vote buying, which should not be downplayed, but taken seriously.