Voting, as a decision-making process on society’s major issues, has been around for thousands of years. There was a time when decisions were made by a narrow circle of authorized persons by throwing coloured balls into a special amphora or by a simple hand gesture. However, as the population increased, society developed, and more and more people became involved in the decision-making process; hundreds of thousands, and even millions.
Then, simple methods of counting votes were replaced by more complex ones: polling stations were eventually created; amphoras were replaced by ballot boxes and balls by paper ballots. Although this approach to voting made it possible to take the opinion of huge masses of the population into account, it has several disadvantages:
● Technical: the possibility of ballot stuffing; the use of fading ink at polling places to fake results; fake protocols; violation of secrecy; intentional errors in calculations; the slow speed of vote counting.
● Social: bribery, administrative pressure on the voter.
● Economic: the high cost to the state budget. For example, the 2015 elections in Russia cost almost $100 million.
Some of the problems described are solvable using electronic voting systems, although their use also has a number of drawbacks:
● Security issues (electronic systems can be hacked, often with unpleasant scandals)
● Problems with certifying election results (as opposed to paper ballots that can be counted)
● The possibility of incorrect system operation due to software errors
Because of this, electronic voting devices and electronic voting itself have not gone into practice on a global scale. Moreover, many countries (including the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany), where e-voting was initially widespread, ultimately limited its use due to the imperfection of the technology and returned to the more reliable analog method of voting.
Nevertheless, the development of technology and society are both pushing humanity to search for cheaper and more reliable methods of voting. The use of blockchain technology in voting can solve most of the problems inherent in existing electoral systems.
The Indian project Litmus.vote, which is working on the introduction of various blockchain systems and software for elections, has already created a platform for public voting, and together with the local government, conducted the first public blockchain survey for the selection of the winners of the Durga Puja festival.
Sumit Gupta (Co-Founder of Litmus.vote) said:
“The results for these polls have been handed over to the concerned government authorities and the awards shall be distributed at the annual carnival organized by the government, later during the year.”
It should be noted that the majority of users in these elections were ordinary people, without any crypto-background, which demonstrates the possibility of using blockchain technology regardless of the environment where it is used.
Blockchain technology itself is based on the transactional model: each user has a wallet with unique public and private keys, with which he confirms any changes to data.
All transaction information is stored in successively written blocks in such as way that the data hash of the previous block is included in the next. This ensures the immutability of the data — changing any block will automatically invalidate all subsequent ones.
Blockchain fully stores all information about all transactions at the same time on all nodes, and it cannot be changed or deleted. Blockchain has found its widest application in the field of the registration of data on the movement of property rights to certain digital objects — all modern cryptocurrencies are built on this idea.
Such objects, usually called “coins” or “tokens” can either be created automatically, according to a predetermined algorithm during the operation of the system (“mined”) or produced by a system participant who has the right to do so.
The idea of using blockchain in voting systems is a question that answers itself: blockchain allows you to replace ancient voting technology where you transferred your vote to someone by using a physical object (a ball of a specific colour, a paper ballot, etc.), to the transfer of a digital token.
Swayam Bagla (Co-founder of Litmus.vote) said:
“Blockchain for the first time ever makes an election process now Provably Fair. Voting on Blockchain might have begun as an exception, with time will become an assumption”
At the same time, as in many other cases where business processes have transitioned from the physical to the digital world, transaction costs are sharply reduced and the availability of the system increases. In addition, the use of the blockchain provides additional benefits:
1. The validity of results. Voting results organized using blockchain technology cannot be faked. You can always check how many votes were issued at the start of voting, how they were distributed to wallets, and at what time the transactions were conducted.
2. Transparency of the process. Blockchain provides the opportunity to control the voting process, since any interested person can deploy a node with a full copy of all data and independently analyze them at the blockchain level.
3. Anonymity. Each participant has the opportunity to create a pair of public and private keys on a local machine and no one except that participant will know that a particular wallet belongs to him. So, no one can know how this member voted, except in the case when the member himself declares that a given wallet belongs to him.
4. Speed of data processing. Voting within a city, region, country or corporation with offices in different countries can have significant costs associated with it, as well as organizational difficulties and temporary losses, both where voting and data processing are concerned. Decentralization will allow the results of voting throughout the country as a whole to be visible, despite the fact that each region/city|district can operate its own system node for load distribution.