Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you might have heard that elections – and specifically the rigging of elections – comes up in the news time and time again. Whether it is voter fraud, foreign powers meddling or simply a break down in the current system, the way we vote has been under attack and something needs to change.
Enter Blockchain. Online voting has often been touted as a way forward to make voting easier and to increase participation. How much easier would it be to vote on your phone rather than have to make tour way down to the polling booth? But online voting has often been accused of lacking the security needed for free and fair elections. But with all of this news of Russia interfering in elections around the world and ballot fraud in the US, is it really any more of a risk than the current system?
As Bloomberg has reported recently, Blockchain may be the future of voting technology. It will be used to store and secure digital votes with its distributed ledger meaning that the system will not be open to manipulation. Also, it would mean that people would be able to see how the count was progressing in real time, leading to more open and honest elections. So, not only could Blockchain tackle voter fraud, it could also severely limit the scope and possibility for interference from outside bodies.
In fact, some computer scientists have already piloted the system, investing a $150,000 grant from Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies Inc., a venture capital fund set up to try and solve the riddle of technology and voting. Their aim is to increase voter participation in the voting system and have identified Blockchain as a key way of making this happen.
In many ways, the younger generation thinks of it as strange that you can’t vote on a phone. So much else of what they do is carried out using this device so voting can seem rather archaic to them. If these new trials prove to be a success then it may not be too long until they do just that.
In the two trials carried out in Harrison and Monongalia in the US, votes were stored in 16 different locations, including the cloud. They also used various providers so that no one influence was able to be pushed. A hacker would have then had to break into all 16 locations in order to change the voting numbers. Multiply these locations by thousands and you begin to see why Blockchain could be the answer.
Sceptics say that this won’t be the answer and that there will be some way around the Blockchain technology. However, at a time when hackers and foreign governments seem to be finding easy ways to do this, a move towards a more secure system seems like a must. More investors and more trials are needed to fully test the technology in this realm but once this happens it could change democracy forever.
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