Blockchain, Governance, and Elections: Cryptographic Verifications and Transparency
I'm a beginner Software developer from Georgia with a big love for all things blockchain!
Government elections are always such a big deal in almost every single country. Some of them seem to be deliberately falsified, while others always claim that a separate world power was tinkering with the results.
These arguments have been persistent for decades, especially after governments started using advanced technologies to either conduct the elections themselves or to simply monitor them. For example, the country of Estonia has a completely digital electoral system
, but there is also a possibility of going to the voting booth and voting offline.
Unfortunately, though, the digital platforms have always been a subject of poor cybersecurity, as there are always hackers that somehow manage to either get their hands on the database of voters or change it in some way.
The governments have been very vocal about these issues, some even condemning digital voting and calling it unreliable. But as we tech lovers know one thing, in terms of upholding democratic values and showing accurate results, there’s nothing more reliable than a good database with decent security. Offline voting is simply a thing of the past, it’s way too easy to fake.
In this article, I’d like to focus your attention on the implementation of the blockchain in our voting systems and how it could potentially revolutionize the way we gain information and the way we vote. Political participation may not be the most popular way of life in developed nations, but developing nations are becoming more and more active, especially the young. Let’s see how the blockchain can lead us to a more peaceful and trustworthy process.
Topics of discussion
In order to truly encompass the whole process of switching to a blockchain-based voting system, we first need to understand where the technology can be applied.
The good news is that almost the whole process, including campaigning and analyzing after the fact can receive the benefit of the blockchain.
Therefore, I’d like to divide the article into three parts
. These will be: “Pre Elections”, “During Elections”, “Post Elections”. All of the paragraphs will focus on their specific timeframe in the voting system.
Pre elections - fact-checking the media
The media is extremely important
when preparing your argumentation on who to vote for. Even though most constitutions say that a person has absolute freedom in who they choose as their leader, it doesn’t mean that we can afford to be ignorant of who we vote for. The person that comes into power can, directly and indirectly, affect the majority of the country’s population as well as the world around it.
Therefore, whenever we vote for a new candidate, we need to consider not only the responsibility towards the country but the responsibility towards the world, especially if the country is capable enough for global influence.
Because of this, the information we receive on the people who are running for office needs to be crystal clear and as factual as possible. But, in a side effect to the freedom of media and the globalization of our digital services, there’s quite a lot of misinformation going around the web almost constantly.
Yes, there are some media channels that purposely favor a specific candidate, but that’s not necessarily the case when we talk about converting a different thinker to a specific side. The conversion happens through independent media on various platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even Instagram.
The blockchain’s role, in this case, would be to identify legitimate media, meaning the identification of factual arguments and the license for conducting reporting activities. This would display as a “seal of approval” on almost every channel that tries to spread information. Those that do not have this “badge” will be deemed unreliable, thus minimizing the spread of misinformation.
The badge will be a part of the blockchain system, thus it can always be audited on who assigns it to a specific company or individual. What this means is that the process is completely transparent, almost everybody who has at least a little bit of knowledge on auditing and checking the ledger would be able to differentiate between an earned badge and a “given” badge.
This information can then travel across other media sources and thus become reality, all within just a few seconds.
During elections - cryptographic verification and automation
The election process itself is also very important. It’s essential that an easy and fast solution is provided to the majority of the population, especially if the government does not recognize election day as a “day off”. Most democratic countries do recognize it in order to give the citizens some kind of breathing area to prepare and go to their election booth and register their vote.
However, some countries tend to avoid this necessity, instead opting for registering people on election booths near their place of employment. This, of course, creates quite a lot of issues in locations where multiple businesses reside. Long lines to make the vote, hour-long waits and multiple other issues.
Some either give up while waiting in line, and others simply don’t even bother.
This is why a blockchain-based cryptographic mobile application is essential for registering people’s choices. As many would say, voting would take as much time as choosing a YouTube video to watch before bed.
This may sound familiar to those who already have this system, but it’s obvious that it has flaws, simply because it’s not transparent. It may be transparent for NGOs and whatnot, but it needs to be transparent for the regular voter as well.
The blockchain app would have three identification methods. That would be the government-issued ID of the person registering to vote, their face or iris scan to identify them, as well as a fingerprint scan to top it all off. Sending an SMS message with a code is also an option. Pretty much any other authentication system you can think of needs to be implemented.
Once a person would vote for their desired candidate, their identification system would be locked. What this means is that if there was another attempt at voting, the system would block them out, thus preventing them from voting again. The misconduct would be displayed in the blockchain and investigated accordingly.
Through such a system, having election day as a “day off” does not become necessary. A law could be passed which would force companies to have an extended lunch on election day to allow all of their employees to place their votes. Very simple and secure.
Post elections - transparency of results and free auditing
Finally, we come to reviewing the results of the election. In the more traditional system the reviewing process is conducted by people rather than machines, thus opening up space for uncountable errors, corruption, fraud and etc.
Overall, the point is that humans cannot be trusted to count the choice of other humans due to some serious risks. But a computer system, especially the one based on the blockchain which can be fact-checked by pretty much everyone is simply incorruptible. Any attempt at making a deliberate mistake, inserting additional points or simply trying to break into the database would be displayed for everybody to see.
Those who oppose the use of the blockchain say that not every person should have the right of viewing the results, but usually, this is due to misinformation. Unlike the traditional systems that are in place today, the blockchain is capable enough to hide the identities of voters as well as their choices if need be.
Breaking the cryptographic seal would require quite a lot of computing power (more than what’s available in the world actually) and probably around a decade. By then, elections would have happened at least twice.
These are my arguments on why we should switch to a blockchain-based voting system. It provides us with additional space to be more transparent, more informed, and most importantly, loyal to our citizen’s duties.
Subscribe to get your daily round-up of top tech stories!