Can blockchain technology make online voting reliable?

Regulation

The United States Presidential elections on Nov. 3 were contentious to begin with, but accusations of electoral fraud from the defeated President Trump cast a pall over the whole procedure. Daniel Hardman, chief architect and chief information security officer at self-sovereign identity solution Evernym, thinks blockchain might help voting in general going forward.

“Basically, blockchain can provide a way for voters to be reliably and securely registered to vote, and then when votes are cast, blockchain can be a mechanism for proving that somebody has the right to vote, based on their prior registration,” Hardman told Cointelegraph. “Blockchain can provide some features that would help with auditing a vote in an election,” he added.

Republicans have been hesitant to accept a Biden win, despite the electoral college verifying the results earlier in December. Rationale ranged from accusations of faulty or manipulated voting machines to allegations of falsified ballots appearing en masse at critical voting sites. 

“The recent stuff that we’ve seen with election challenges in Pennsylvania and Arizona and so forth — there are certain features of blockchain that would have made it possible to do more robust auditing,” Hardman said. “You’d basically be able to lay to rest any concerns about tampering and things like that.”

With public blockchains, such as Bitcoin’s (BTC) for example, every transaction is recorded on an immutable public ledger, making audits more foolproof and transparent than centralized or paper-based processes. Applying such technology to voting could achieve similar results for votes.

Although the model appears transparent and unchangeable, how would authorities know if votes came from citizens who only voted one time? “What you want is what’s called end-to-end verification,” Hardman explained. “On the one side, the front side of it is the registration part,” he said, adding:

“You need to know that a person can only register one time and that means that when somebody comes in to register you do the things that you would do in a physical election mechanism today, which is — you check the driver’s license, you see if their picture matches, their signature matches, all that kind of stuff.”

Then, under the hood, the technology ensures each person only a single vote. “On the backend, you prove that for any given registration, you can cast exactly one vote,” Hardman said.

Over the past few years, blockchain has gained popularity for its usefulness in a number of mainstream processes, such as supply chain activities.

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