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The Impact of Blockchain on VotingBy Amit Dudani | April 6, 2018, 7:40 a.m. GMT
“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” - Theodore Roosevelt.
To protect interests of the populace at large, democracy is considered to be the best form of governance.
A fair electoral process is a key ingredient in an effective and healthy democracy. Elections are tools through which citizens enjoy their right to choose a representative based on their judgment of a better leader.
In a healthy democracy, it is very important that the public has full confidence in the electoral process. However, in recent times a lot of doubts have been raised on electoral processes across the world. Hacked voting machines, ballot box tampering, an improper tally of votes and foreign influence are some challenges faced in elections today.
These issues used to be largely unique to developing countries earlier but last year questions were raised about the U.S. Presidential elections as well with respect to irregularities and foreign intervention.
How Can Blockchain Help?
Blockchain Technology as we all know is the underlying technology of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But recently we have seen more potential uses of Blockchain technology with newer use-cases like data storage, supply chain management, payments and others.
The Blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger. This means all the records on the ledger are visible to everyone in the network. In the voting process, this becomes a better measure of security as all records can be publicly verifiable.
Every individual voter has the right to keep their votes secret while still being able to verify that their vote was rightly lodged. This is facilitated beautifully by the Blockchain technology as all records that are publicly visible are attributed to a public key in a hexadecimal form. The public key does not reveal the identity of the voter, making the system public yet guaranteeing anonymity.
The other important characteristic of Blockchain technology is immutability. That means once a record stored in the Blockchain ledger cannot be removed or altered.
Nodes on the network verify the transaction through a complex consensus mechanism. Once all the nodes are in agreement, this data is recorded on the ledger where it becomes impossible to alter. This is because any changes that are attempted on one node will be immediately recognized as false by the other nodes.
This is an obvious advantage for the electoral process, as it means votes stored on Blockchain cannot be altered with. Votes, therefore, will not be manipulated.
Moreover, the Blockchain has no single point of failure as Blockchain is distributed; the data cannot be stored or modified from a single point. This provides a more secure network. It will be difficult for an attacker to attack because all the nodes will require change, which is close to impossible.
Blockchain assures that there can be no malicious activity like falsification of records from within or outside of the network. Thus, it offers several benefits both to the regulatory machinery of a country looking to hold free and fair elections as well as to the individual voter by building confidence.
It may face resistance from the group of people in power if they are interested in holding onto a flawed system. In addition, this technology will have to grow and gain trust from people at large to become a viable choice for the voting system.