Written by Andres Solanot, Blockchain Analyst at AlliedBlock.com
Problems with our current voting system are numerous in the United States. In the 2016 Presidential election 500,000 votes were reported compromised by Illinois officials.(1) These problems magnify in Third World countries that deal with higher levels of corruption. Africa is a prime example with many countries exhibiting extremely low voter confidence (2). Although still nascent, Blockchain technology promises to alleviate some of these issues and bring the next evolutionary phase in civic engagement.
A number of countries have tried e-voting with varying degrees of success or failure (3). With widely mixed sentiment towards online voting, we are still in the early days of proving this technology. Until the invention of blockchain, online voting was little more than a pipedream, with security experts pointing out multiple vulnerabilities. Although blockchain is not a panacea, it does offer hope that a distributed digital voting solution can be created. As experts become cautiously optimistic and developers and technologists work on solutions, the future for online voting is becoming brighter.
Blockchain will act as the key to allowing truly scalable online voting platforms to exist in a secure and trusted manner. Although online voting won’t solve the problems of fake news or greater corruption within a political system, it can help us restore faith in the electoral process by making sure votes are being counted correctly. Not only this, but online voting enabled by blockchain can help us guarantee that each person who votes is eligible and only votes once. Private key cryptography allows for votes to be counted in a transparent manner, while keeping the identities of voters and their individual decisions private.
With at least 10 companies currently building out blockchain solutions in this space, we will see which major governments and institutions lead the charge by becoming early adopters. Given the newness of the technology, there is fear that comes with being the first to adopt an unproven solution – despite the significant upside potential. Some of the companies currently building solutions are Voatz, Votem, and Agora. Agora piloted the first test of Blockchain voting in a national government vote during the Sierra Leone presidential elections early in 2018 (4). Despite the uncertainty more governments are expressing interest in trying blockchain voting solutions. The government of Catalonia has said they may opt for a blockchain based public e-voting system by 2020 (5).
It’s important to remember that we are still in the early days of testing online voting technologies. As with any technology or new development, there will always be failures at the start. We must not let these failures stand in the way of progress. The fundamentals of blockchain technology and private key cryptography tell us that secure and fair online voting is achievable. The benefits are tangible with reduced fraud and increased access. These are values worth working towards to make stronger more representative democracies.
AlliedBlock is a global blockchain research and development firm that is focused on delivering tailored blockchain development solutions. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you tailor a blockchain solution for your business (www.alliedblock.com).