From the United States to Uganda, voting claims have become an integral part of elections around the world.
Some of these claims are legitimate when powerful leaders suppress the will of the people in a desperate attempt to stay in power. In other cases, however, there is little evidence to support such allegations. Fake videos are circulating on the Internet that paint a picture of industrial-scale fraud – showing a world where ballot papers are thrown in the ballot box.
True or not, even mere speculation about voting systems is sufficient to undermine the credibility of the democratic process – to divide societies and encourage violence, as we saw in the US capital in January. A recent poll by Morning Consult and Politico showed that only 33% of Republican voters now trust the US election.
In this age of uncertainty, the talks inevitably revolved around how blockchain can help modernize elections – among hopes that technology can bring legal action to an end. Spokesmen also believe that these static databases can make the national referendum more efficient. We often take elections for granted, but we forget the people and organizations needed for tens of millions of people to vote on the same day.
But it is not enough to say the word “blockchain” and believe that pain points can be solved by global elections. Instead, a lot of thought is needed to define how this technology should be implemented. Should voters submit their ballots electronically, that is, should their choice be captured automatically in one of these networks, or should technology be used when verifying results?
In recent years, several blockchain-based voting systems have emerged, including the voting systems Votem, Voatz and Horizon State. Some of them struggled to get the app, while others found vulnerabilities.
As for the prospect of voting for the blockchain itself, some researchers express concern that this technology may not be the magic bullet that people are hoping for. A November 2020 report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that claims that the blockchain will improve electoral security are “unreliable and misleading.”
Four co-authors question whether voting on a computer or smartphone will make the process more convenient and accessible to the public, and some studies indicate that in practice this may have “little or no effect on voter turnout”, and they also claim that malicious software and denial service attacks It can undermine a person’s ability to vote. Paper and pen can be old-fashioned, but at least the hacker can’t take them.
“Voice systems on the Internet are vulnerable to major disruptions that are larger, more difficult to detect and easier to implement than similar attacks on paper voice systems. Furthermore, electronic voting systems will suffer from these weaknesses in the foreseeable future, given the state of data security and greater risk in political choices. ”
Even if blockchain technology is distributed across the country as a result of majority voting, polling stations will still have to be distributed across the country to serve those who do not have the technology or knowledge to vote digitally.
However, this criticism does not necessarily mean that blockchain should be turned off completely – and that these advanced networks have no place in the electoral system.
Free TON is a community that investigates this issue more deeply, and instead of developing a system that ensures that blockchain is used during voting, it works to create software that will be useful after voting.
In November 2020, a competition was organized to develop software specifications that would pave the way for validating votes in a crowdsourcing environment and protecting against unauthorized access. Most importantly, this technology will allow anyone to verify the accounts of current electoral bodies, which will help increase confidence in the final results.
Winner Luca Patrick made software specifications adapted to countries in Latin America such as Guatemala, where allegations of manipulation of votes are combined with political instability. For his contribution, he received 30,000 tons of crystals.
The election process is a clear problem in many countries. I have been thinking about solutions and their different applications for several years now.