Can blockchain technology make online voting reliable?


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The November 3 presidential election in the United States was initially controversial, but baseless and inaccurate allegations by defeated President Trump of election fraud have dwarfed the entire process. Daniel Hardman, chief architect and chief information security officer at the self-sovereign identity solution Evernym, believes that blockchain could support general voting in the future.

“Basically, blockchain can provide a way for voters to be reliably and securely registered to vote. When votes are cast, blockchain can be a mechanism to prove that someone has the right to vote based on their prior registration,” Hardman told Cointelegraph. “Blockchain can provide some functionality that is useful in examining a vote in an election,” he added.

Republicans were reluctant to accept a Biden victory despite the electoral college reviewing the results in early December. The reasons ranged from allegations of faulty or manipulated voting machines to allegations of forged ballot papers, which appear en masse at critical voting locations. However, none of these allegations have stood up in court.

“The recent things we saw in election challenges in Pennsylvania and Arizona, etc. – there are certain features of the blockchain that would have made it possible to conduct a more robust test,” Hardman said. “Basically, you might be able to address concerns about tampering and the like.”

With public blockchains such as Bitcoin (BTC), every transaction is recorded in an unchangeable public ledger, making audits easier and more transparent than centralized or paper-based processes. Applying such technology to voting could produce similar voting results.

Although the model appears transparent and immutable, how would the authorities know if votes came from citizens who only voted once? “What you want is what is known as the end-to-end review,” Hardman explained. “On one side, the front is the registration part,” he said, adding:

“You need to know that a person can only register once, and that means that when someone walks in to register, you do the things you would do today with a physical voting mechanism: you check the driver’s license and see if theirs Image matches, their signature matches, all of those things. “

Then the technology under the hood ensures that each person only has one voice. “In the backend, you prove that you can cast exactly one vote for each registration,” said Hardman.

An extremely complex topic that requires different solutions based on different threat factors. A blockchain-coordinated voting system may contain certain components to prevent election fraud and malware, such as: B. a biometric voter identification. “When you know that John Smith of 123 Main Street, Pennsylvania has a certain fingerprint, it’s pretty difficult for others to vote on his behalf,” Hardman said.

Then what prevents governments and corporations from using such personal information for tracking and other uses? Hardman explained China and its COVID prevention measures as an example of an invasion of privacy. The country has tracked the temperatures of its peoples, tailored to their identity and location, he said.

“You want to separate those two questions in elections,” Hardman said. “The question – is the party trying to cast a vote because it was previously registered in the system – is a question,” he noted. “The question of ‘who is this person’ is a different question,” he explained, adding:

“There are parts of an election where you might want to ask both questions, but there are other parts where you don’t have to ask both questions and if you separate them you can prevent the government from doing so – an apocalyptic surveillance state who knows what vote you cast and when you cast it and the like. “

A key to the problem? According to Hardman, it is a blockchain technology known as zero-knowledge proofs. Zero-knowledge proofs essentially verify a person’s identity without revealing their private information. “You ask someone at registration to identify exactly who they are, where they live, and so on, but at the time of voting, you ask them to prove that they have the privilege of voting without revealing who they are “explained Hardman. “They also ask them to prove that their voice has not yet been recorded in the system […] this guarantees that you cannot vote twice. “

In recent years, due to its usefulness in a number of popular processes, such as: B. in the supply chain, gained popularity.