The US presidential election in 2020 was met with an increase in the number of ballot papers sent out over concerns about COVID-19. However, as many Americans withdrew from this year’s polls, there were delays in the mail, rejection of ballot papers and other questions.
Not surprisingly, better voting techniques during major elections quickly become a hot topic of discussion. It has also asked some in the crypto community to confirm a blockchain-based voting system for use in future presidential elections.
While the promise of blockchain includes trust, transparency and consistency, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Lab have pointed out security flaws associated with blockchain voting systems. On November 6, researchers published a report stating that online voting has fatal flaws, as such systems are vulnerable to widespread cyber attacks. The report specifically discusses blockchain-based voting systems such as Voatz, which was used in US municipal elections but reportedly suffers from data security issues.
In addition to security, blockchain voting systems can be used.
Despite security concerns, some still believe that blockchain-based voting systems will be used in larger elections in the future. Maxim Rokinov, head of the Center for Distributed Ledger Technologies at St. Petersburg State University, told Cointelegraph that blockchain enables a fair electoral system in a trusted environment among participants who do not usually trust each other: “By using blockchain you can activate voting and increase transparency in elections. In an ideal scenario, the results of such a reconciliation cannot be falsified. ”
Rukinov shared that he worked with a group of researchers to develop an electronic voting system designed specifically for business use. Rukinov explained that this system, known as “CryptoVeche”, stores voice results on a blockchain, which is a kind of distributed ledger. Thus, the system is extremely safe against external and internal intrusions.
Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute and author of the book, explained this in detail in an article published in The New York Times in 2018, even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought new problems. Tapscott noted that in elections, trust is concentrated on government agencies, which are very vulnerable to hacking, fraud and human error. In comparison, a study published last year found that local and federal authorities have been victims of 443 data breaches since 2014, but most of these include lost devices, mail errors and paper leaks.
Tapscott noted that the blockchain system relies on computers on a distributed network to verify transactions. After confirmation, the results are written in blocks that are cryptographically linked to the previous block. A secure register is then created, which is transparent to all network participants, but remains stable and protected against unauthorized access. This feature is also important to ensure that people only give one vote, as blockchain-based systems aim to prevent dual use.
Don Tapscott, a well-known author and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, told Cointelegraph that voices cannot be sent over the Internet today because Internet systems do not work well for such applications:
“If we transmit information as an online poll, we will actually send a copy of this file. The original is still in our possession. This is acceptable for information exchange, but not acceptable for transactions involving assets such as money, securities, songs or voice recordings. by choice. ”
Thus, Tapscott pointed out that in a blockchain-based system, public trust in the voting process is achieved through cryptography, tokenization and cooperation between citizens, public agencies and other stakeholders.
Technical challenges must be overcome
Of course, there is no denying that the technical problems associated with blockchain-based voting systems remain. In addition to the security concerns cited by MIT researchers in their latest report, Rukinov acknowledged that developing an electronic voting system was a daunting task.
Rukinov also explained that the use of blockchain systems checks the accuracy of transactions, in which case voter registration is checked through a consensus mechanism between different network participants. However, when it comes to voting systems, independent observers must also be one of the parties to the consensus, which means they have to hold on to multiple nodes to confirm.
According to Rukinov, the number of nodes owned by the network regulator is in most cases greater than the number of independent nodes. In the case of a blockchain-based voice system, an attack can occur when those who control more than half of the resources have the ability to change data at random.