Isn’t it a common sight during elections when people queue up in long lines and wait for their turn up to 5 hours in order to cast vote for their preferred candidates? Well, we all know that elections are an important part of modern democracies. However, in this age of technological advancement that includes self-driving cars, isn’t there a better way of voting than the way it’s being done today?
A vote is a formal expression of an individual’s choice for or against some motion; for or against some ballot question; or for a certain candidate, selection of candidates, or political party. With a new round of political elections approaching this year, technology has become a focus of attention: its role in how citizens learn about candidates and vote, how secure our voting systems are and how technology can help secure them. Blockchain – mostly known for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – is certainly one of the most talked-about technologies right now.
Most countries have probably faced a lack of transparency when it comes to elections. The issue with the current ballot system is that it can be easily manipulated by power hungry organizations. There is always the risk of results being manipulated in favor of one candidate or another, incumbents abusing their positions to garner more votes, not to mention vote rigging and electoral fraud. Suspicions exist, even when there’s little evidence of abuse. A more transparent system could help restore trust.
We hear a lot of talk about blockchain being used in areas such as finance and currency as referenced with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. A lot is also heard about it being used in health care, smart contracts and personal identification, among other areas. There are many who believe that blockchain can and will provide a new method of voting that is more secure, easier and will allow for more people to perform their basic civic duty.
The idea of using blockchain for elections is worth more than just an experiment; it has already being put into practice. Using this technology, we can make sure that those who are voting are who they say they are and are legally allowed to vote. In addition, by using blockchain, anyone who knows how to use a cell phone can understand the technology required for voting. Mobile voting using a safe and tested interface could eliminate voter fraud and boost turnout.
A blockchain is a distributed database where all the information is stored on the computers of all network members – not in one place. This makes it very difficult to compromise – hackers would have to compromise all the computers on the network to get the information. At the same time, any new information that enters into a blockchain is immediately visible to all network members; and the history of changes is also in the public domain, which makes any manipulation of votes impossible. Moreover, all the votes added to a blockchain are encrypted twice – by the voters themselves and by the smart contract for encrypted voting in the blockchain.
In the current climate of questioning the integrity of election processes, the potential of blockchain technology to radically change traditional voting systems is enormous. As such, governments may come to realize that the security and integrity of electoral processes is not just a matter for state control, but also an area that can be guaranteed collectively, supported by blockchain. Blockchain allows each vote to become immutable after it is recorded on the blockchain ledger, unlike penetrable electronic voting systems currently in use.
At a time when elections – even in advanced democracies – are tainted with allegations of fraud or outside influence, use of technology to eliminate rigging is imperative. However, there is still skepticism around using blockchain for this purpose. Despite the numerous benefits, some government officials remain hesitant to support blockchain technology for a number of reasons: namely, its decentralized structure and technological complexity, coupled with policymakers’ tendency toward risk aversion.
For blockchain to be a viable option for conducting elections, certain challenges must be overcome. Blockchain has to be tested, be available at an optimum cost and be able to scale up for higher numbers of users. Political will to support a new technology is also necessary. This highlights a need to create awareness among the government officials and build the technological capabilities for making possible a technology-driven, transparent electoral process. Public officials will have to understand the nuances of the technology and evaluate feedback received from voters and administrators alike.
As governments change, the process of electing such governments is bound to change too – and blockchain may have a part to play. Indeed, blockchain can be that cutting-edge technology that can help us lower our uncertainties about identity and what we mean about transparency in long distances and complex trades, like in election systems.
If you are in search of a customized blockchain solution, reach out to our team at OneNet Blockchain