Can blockchain technology make online voting reliable?

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The USA Presidential elections on Nov. 3 have been contentious to start with, however unfounded and inaccurate accusations of electoral fraud from the defeated President Trump forged a pall over the entire process. Daniel Hardman, chief architect and chief data safety officer at self-sovereign identification resolution Evernym, thinks blockchain may assist voting generally going ahead.

“Mainly, blockchain can present a approach for voters to be reliably and securely registered to vote, after which when votes are forged, blockchain is usually a mechanism for proving that someone has the fitting to vote, primarily based on their prior registration,” Hardman advised Cointelegraph. “Blockchain can present some options that will assist with auditing a vote in an election,” he added.

Republicans have been hesitant to just accept a Biden win, regardless of the electoral faculty verifying the outcomes earlier in December. Rationale ranged from accusations of defective or manipulated voting machines to allegations of falsified ballots showing en masse at essential voting websites. None of those accusations, nonetheless, have stood up in court docket.

“The current stuff that we’ve seen with election challenges in Pennsylvania and Arizona and so forth — there are specific options of blockchain that will have made it potential to do extra sturdy auditing,” Hardman mentioned. “You’d principally be capable of lay to relaxation any considerations about tampering and issues like that.”

With public blockchains, comparable to Bitcoin’s (BTC) for instance, each transaction is recorded on an immutable public ledger, making audits extra foolproof and clear than centralized or paper-based processes. Making use of such know-how to voting might obtain related outcomes for votes.

Though the mannequin seems clear and unchangeable, how would authorities know if votes got here from residents who solely voted one time? “What you need is what’s referred to as end-to-end verification,” Hardman defined. “On the one aspect, the entrance aspect of it’s the registration half,” he mentioned, including:

“It is advisable know that an individual can solely register one time and that signifies that when someone is available in to register you do the issues that you’d do in a bodily election mechanism in the present day, which is — you verify the driving force’s license, you see if their image matches, their signature matches, all that sort of stuff.”

Then, below the hood, the know-how ensures every individual solely a single vote. “On the backend, you show that for any given registration, you’ll be able to forged precisely one vote,” Hardman mentioned.

A vastly complicated matter calling for various options primarily based on differing risk components, a blockchain-involved voting system may embrace particular parts for stopping voter fraud and malware, comparable to biometric-based voter identification. “If you understand that, ya know, John Smith from 123 Predominant Road in Pennsylvania has a selected fingerprint, then it’s fairly laborious for someone else to forged a vote on his behalf,” Hardman defined.

That mentioned, what then stops governments and corporations from benefiting from such private data for monitoring and different usages? Hardman defined China and its COVID prevention measures for example of privateness infringement. The nation has tracked its peoples’ temperatures, matched with their identities and areas, he defined.

“Within the case of elections, what you would like is to separate these two questions,” Hardman mentioned. “The query — is the celebration that is attempting to forged a vote approved to take action as a result of they have been prior registered within the system — is one query,” he famous. “The query ‘who is that this individual,’ is a unique query,” he defined, including:

“There are elements of an election the place you may wish to ask each questions, however there are different elements the place you needn’t ask each, and if you happen to separate these, then you’ll be able to stop the federal government from doing that — from having sort of an apocalyptic surveillance state that is aware of which vote you forged and whenever you forged it and stuff like that.”

A key to the issue? A blockchain know-how referred to as zero-knowledge proofs, in line with Hardman. Zero-knowledge proofs primarily confirm an individual’s identification with out truly revealing their non-public information. “You ask someone at registration time to strongly determine, you understand, who they’re, the place they stay and so forth, however on the time they forged their vote, what you ask them is to show that they’ve the privilege of casting the vote with out disclosing who they’re,” Hardman defined. “You additional ask them to show that their vote has not already been tracked within the system […] which ensures that you would be able to’t vote twice.”

Over the previous few years, blockchain has gained recognition for its usefulness in a lot of mainstream processes, such as supply chain activities.