Researchers Dissect Online Voting Possibility
There are Problems Looming on the Horizon
According to the businessinsider.com, three researchers from the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3) performed a study on the possibility of using the blockchain technology for online voting.
They have concluded that many governments are looking to making voting practices more convenient, increase voter turnout, and modernize practices through the blockchain technology.
However, the three researchers claim that blockchain can’t be the solution which will solve voting problems, but, in fact, has the potential to make them even worse.
Problems With Computers, Trust, Hackers, and Bribery
Ari Juels, a professor of computer science at Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Ittay Eyal, professor of electrical engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and Oded Naor, a graduate student in electrical engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, underlined a few potential problems with the voting system based on the blockchain.
“The stability and integrity of a democratic society itself are too important to be relegated to flawed computer systems,” the trio states for the businessinsider.com, emphasizing that even the renowned cryptographer, Ronald Rivest, has remarked that the best practices for internet voting are like the best practices for drunk driving – there’s no safe way to do either one.
Furthermore, they have pointed out that hackers, backed by political adversaries or foreign government, may present a serious threat to the integrity of one such voting system.
“A key method by which blockchain voting could worsen election integrity is by claiming to increase trustworthiness without actually doing so,” researchers declare as they explain that blockchain’s secure nature can’t be taken into consideration without considering unsafety of computers and mobile devices.
According to them: “A vote may be securely recorded, but that means nothing if the vote was miscast, to begin with.”
Simply put, if the voter’s phone was infected with malware that switches the vote from one candidate to the other, it doesn’t matter how secure the rest of the voting system is.
As the last point of failure, the three experts revealed their opinion that bribing a voter would become more likely to happen with the online voting system due to the high level of privacy one has when using the blockchain technology.
Researchers Trust the Blockchain Technology
Even though the IC3’s researchers deduced that blockchain isn’t the right solution for voting, they have a high level of belief in the blockchain technology.
“As researchers in the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts, we believe in the transformative potential of blockchain systems in a number of industries,” the trio declared in their report and deduced that blockchains could do much more than allow strangers to send each other money without fear of fraud or tampering.
“They (developers) have created new ways for people to invest in technology ventures that have attracted billions of dollars, and may someday store records that make educational credentials, land ownership and food origins more transparent and harder to forge,” the trio concluded positively.
Is Tradition Also Failing?
Although the point that these experts are making is more than clear, we cannot help but ask ourselves if online voting would at least present an improvement.
Looking at George W. Bush’s sudden Hail Mary recount victory in Florida in 2000, or the low turnout of Macedonians to the referendum concerning the very name of their own country, we have to feel that the something is very wrong with the current system as well.
Would blockchain-based voting improve that system? This new world of blockchain and cryptos is constantly evolving, and while the trust is still being formed, they will still be subject to a lot of speculations.
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