The problem of organizing the voting system has long been an issue in society. It is the 21st century, and the existing methods of expression of the will in most countries are unchanged from past centuries. In the realities of the widespread digitalization of life areas, the voter still has to leave his home and stand in line to vote.
The need to visit polling stations during the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affects voter turnout. In addition, organizing voting “the old-fashioned way” is an expensive, resource-intensive process, accompanied by suspicions and concerns about the possibility of fraudulent results.
The Benefits and Purpose of Blockchain Voting. What’s in Theory?
Blockchain technology can solve most of the problems faced by organizers of analog voting. After all, blockchain is a digital database where information is stored in a distributed manner, not in one place, but simultaneously on all network nodes. Such infrastructure has an obvious benefit for the voting system because it is impossible for any hacker to interfere with the network by affecting all of its nodes at the same time.
Thanks to encryption and decentralization, the database is protected from hacker attacks and hacking attempts, and every blockchain record is easily verifiable.
Blockchain immutability excludes the possibility of removing election votes and double voting. A decentralized database stores records of all election-related information and this information cannot be faked or hidden.
Another benefit of using blockchain technology to organize elections is the high speed of data processing. As a result, elections can be held within a much shorter time frame.
In addition, the counting of votes in blockchain voting occurs automatically, which excludes the possibility of voting results falsification and errors associated with the human factor.
So, what are the main steps of the blockchain online voting process:
- voter registration and identity confirmation on the blockchain voting platform.
- maintaining the anonymity of the secret ballot by excluding the record on the blockchain of information regarding the identity of the voter. Anonymity is achieved by using various encryption methods, ring transactions
- transfer of a specialized token to the user’s account by the election commission
- voting by sending a token by the user to the address representing support for a particular candidate.
To determine the winner of the vote, you only need to compare the number of tokens on the accounts of the candidates.
Blockchain Voting. What’s in Practice?
Blockchain is already one of the most promising technologies used for online voting in various countries.
For example, the US state of West Virginia launched a mobile blockchain app with which voters could vote online in the state senate elections. And the Japanese city of Tsukuba successfully conducted online voting on the financing of social projects. The online election was based on a blockchain platform developed by the Tokyo-based company LayerX.
Blockchain has also actively entered political life in the Russian Federation. It all started in 2016 with the Active Citizen platform, created for voting by citizens of the capital on urban development and policy issues. Further, blockchain technology was used for voting in the Moscow City Duma elections in September 2019. Also, in 2020, citizens of some central regions of Russia could vote for or against constitutional amendments using a blockchain-based online system.
These blockchain experiments were organized by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) together with Kaspersky Lab. But despite some flaws (the system periodically froze, delayed data registration) the experiment on the use of blockchain technology in the organization of political elections was deemed successful.
The Russian authorities emphasized the speed of obtaining the results of blockchain voting and its security. Therefore, this September, citizens of the Russian capital got another opportunity to vote online. The Moscow online voting system based on the Exonum blockchain was implemented on the mos.ru website. And anyone could monitor the purity of electronic voting using a special page developed for this service observer, which allows you to track all transactions in the blockchain.
And of course, it is important to mention the successful experience of implementing blockchain technology in the voting system of the most “digitized” state in Europe – Estonia.
In order to vote, Estonian residents need only an ID-card (the electronic equivalent of the country’s internal passport) and a computer with Internet access. The Estonian authorities have ensured maximum transparency and clarity of the entire blockchain voting system: regular audits, publication of the source code of the internet voting system.
Thanks to the public trust and the ease of blockchain voting implementation, Estonia has set a record for online voting in elections. In the last parliamentary elections, every third voter voted from a personal computer.
Of course, blockchain online voting is currently not used in all countries. The main reason for the cautious approach to integrating technology into the voting system is the insufficient level of technical literacy of the population and, accordingly, the lack of trust in technologies that are difficult to understand.
But we must remember that with experience comes both understanding and acceptance. And sooner or later, digital progress will lead to blockchain technology being openly and fully implemented in the electoral process, which will ensure transparent and provably fair elections all over the world.