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Blockchain voting is the alternative for trusted democratic elections

Blockchain voting is the alternative for trusted democratic elections

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted folks’s lives, the connection between governments and residents, and the complete world economic system, and naturally, it has had a serious affect on the US presidential election.

On account of social isolation, numerous American voters opted to vote by mail, which elevated vote counting time, led candidate and performing President Donald Trump to judicialize the electoral course of with actions in a number of states, and triggered intense debates in regards to the veracity and legitimacy of the present American electoral system.

Associated: Blockchain voting methods may very well be the longer term, however present flaws persist

The present voting system within the digital age

At present, many have proposed “cell” voting in its place extra appropriate with present instances, permitting folks to vote with out leaving their properties.

We’re in a position to store on-line, there are professions which can be carried out 100% remotely — which has intensified with the present pandemic — however electoral participation nonetheless must be exercised in particular person and in a selected location.

Now, does this not go towards the digital age the place info and expertise function facilitators of communication, information switch and enterprise transactions?

How does one make cell, or distant, voting attainable with out compromising the safety of electoral participation? The addition of blockchain options to the cell voting course of can provide confidence to the electoral system and produce peace to the electoral course of.

Associated: Digital voting with blockchain: An expertise from Naples, Italy

The mixture of sequential hashing and cryptography in a distributed construction permits for the safety of voters’ identification and the verification of completely all votes entered within the blockchain platform, which might allow safe and clear voting mechanisms with electoral vote monitoring.

Think about how good it could be to test in case your vote was truly counted for the candidate chosen by you, with absolutely the assure of the secrecy of your vote? All of that is attainable with blockchain expertise.

Associated: The promise and actuality of blockchain’s function in international elections

American electoral jurisdictions and blockchain-based pilot tasks

Electoral jurisdictions in a number of U.S. states have examined mobile-application-based blockchain voting for state, federal and municipal elections — primarily to allow distant voting by navy and civilian residents overseas through smartphones and tablets, slightly than the normal and mail, fax and paper strategies.

West Virginia, for instance, enabled cell voting through blockchain for its state and federal elections again in 2018. Denver, Colorado; Utah County, Utah; and two counties within the state of Oregon additionally examined pilot tasks for his or her 2019 municipal elections. In complete, 29 counties in 5 states examined Voatz’s cell voting app in official elections.

In the entire examples talked about above, to the shock of many and in line with the authorities answerable for voting through blockchain, the electoral course of proved to be simpler and extra accessible.

For that cause, there are already advocates of using blockchain in American elections.

The positions of American political personalities on cell voting

On account of the nice efficiency talked about within the earlier paragraphs, there are already notable figures in American politics elevating the banner of blockchain cell voting, reminiscent of Bradley Tusk — an American businessman, philanthropist, political strategist and founding father of Tusk Philanthropies; Mike Queen — deputy chief of workers to the West Virginia Secretary of State; and Jocelyn Bucaro — director of elections in Denver.

However as a result of we live within the age of polarization, there are additionally folks strongly towards cell voting, together with voting through blockchain. In that sense, we are able to seek advice from Jeremy Epstein, a member of the Affiliation for Computing Equipment’s US Expertise Coverage Committee. Right here, it is very important be aware that Epstein — who was a vice chair of the committee on the time — co-authored an electoral safety report titled “E mail and Web Voting: The Neglected Risk to Election Safety,” which was developed along side Widespread Trigger, the Nationwide Election Protection Coalition and the R Avenue Institute.

The report factors to blockchain and web voting as a goal for on-line assaults by international intelligence, saying the transmission of ballots over the web — together with by e mail, fax and blockchain methods — makes them weak.

Regardless of the professionals and cons, are there options already in place that may defend residents from electoral fraud? How would identification verification be used within the course of? What tasks and options can we consider implementing for identification verification within the voting course of, and the way would they work?

A blockchain answer that may allow a digital election within the U.S.

The Voatz utility, for instance, appears to be like for vulnerabilities and indicators of dedication or vulnerability from the beginning. If the app finds {that a} smartphone has been compromised, it doesn’t enable the consumer to vote. If the applying passes safety exams and third-party instruments linked to it, the voter is authenticated on their cell phone by a fingerprint or facial recognition.

The voter then gives their authorities identification, normally a driver’s license or passport, and takes a selfie for additional authentication. Lastly, the voter touches the fingerprint reader of their cellular phone to confirm that the smartphone is definitely within the voter’s arms. On this step, the Voatz utility combines the selfie taken by the voter with the picture of the identification doc and, after rechecking all of the registration info given, confirms that the voter can vote.

Voters can use their very own extra authentication issue, reminiscent of an Apple Watch, Google Authenticator or a YubiKey. And if they need, they will nonetheless obtain an SMS message or e mail as an extra authentication issue.

Cybersecurity in a blockchain vote

Relating to cybersecurity, as “all” software program has vulnerabilities, it can’t be ignored that denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service assaults are reputable dangers in a cell vote. Due to this fact, it is very important search for backup strategies for attainable infrastructure failure within the case of a DoS assault on the cell voting system.

The blockchain a part of the method is the least worrying by way of safety. It is only one element of the voting course of, which additionally consists of the steps of identification safety, verification and validation.

Blockchain, within the case of Voatz, is for the precise utility for which it was constructed: to distribute voting data in order that it’s harder to assault remotely. It additionally has cryptographic audit proof of every transaction.

The primary safety danger in voting through blockchain is within the interface with the electoral jurisdiction, the place the poll can be printed with a hash or encrypted key on prime. After it’s saved, it’s lastly digitized within the election methods and software program ballot-reading methods. At this stage, the electoral course of “is out of attain” for Voatz.

Along with cybersecurity points, one other level in a blockchain vote that has been questioned is: How would the voting guide be processed and the ballots verified in a blockchain answer?

Taking the Voatz app for instance once more, it makes use of a 32-node blockchain infrastructure on Amazon Net Providers and Microsoft Azure, every internet hosting 16 nodes in the US. Cloudflare is amongst a number of firms that present DDoS-protection providers, and Voatz has stated that the system employs end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication for infrastructure nodes.

One other blockchain voting answer was utilized in Colombia in 2016. “Blockchain Voting for Peace” is a case examine by the Organisation for Financial Cooperation and Improvement of a referendum held in Colombia again then. In it, the nonprofit group Democracy Earth Basis creates a blockchain platform to permit Colombians dwelling overseas to symbolically take part within the plebiscite on the peace treaty between the federal government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, generally referred to as FARC. The attention-grabbing factor right here is the potential for democratic protection supplied by the blockchain.

Key takeaways

From what we have now seen thus far, it’s not an exaggeration to think about that within the close to future, many international locations will see blockchain expertise as an excellent voting technique for a society that’s more and more digitized sooner than ever.

Nevertheless, even when the maturity of the expertise is reached and it successfully brings larger legitimacy to the electoral course of and veracity to the voting system, will we be capable to overcome the cultural obstacles and digital illiteracy that also exist in right now’s world?

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed below are the creator’s alone and don’t essentially replicate or signify the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Tatiana Revoredo is a founding member of the Oxford Blockchain Basis and is a strategist in blockchain at Saïd Enterprise College on the College of Oxford. Moreover, she is an skilled in blockchain enterprise purposes at MIT and is the chief technique officer of The International Technique. Tatiana has been invited by the European Parliament to the Intercontinental Blockchain Convention and was invited by the Brazilian parliament to the general public listening to on Invoice 2303/2015. She is the creator of two books: Blockchain: Tudo O Que Você Precisa Saber and Cryptocurrencies within the Worldwide State of affairs: What Is the Place of Central Banks, Governments and Authorities About Cryptocurrencies?