Blockchain, an emerging technology that is known for its use in Bitcoin, has the potential to revolutionize the democratic process in the United States. There are many unique features of blockchain that make it a promising candidate for a new system of voting. Primarily, blockchain is a distributed ledger, meaning that it uses decentralized peer-to-peer confirmation for all of its data processing. This ensures that there are no intermediaries and makes blockchain a relatively incorruptible technology. Each block within the chain of transactions stays within a specified order and changes made are documented as new blocks that are added to the end of the chain. In order for a block to be added, a cryptographic puzzle has to be solved, and the solution has to be verified by other computers. This is known as peer to peer verification, a system which ensures that no fake voter IDs can be generated. These measures can help officials count votes with certainty and clarity in the fact that each voter ID only corresponds to one vote.
This kind of system infrastructure is extremely useful for voting because a vote is essentially a small piece of high-value data. For this reason, online voting systems that have been developed in the past have posed security challenges. The process of voting using blockchain technology follows a relatively straightforward, logical path. First, voters register using multiple types of personal identification such as social security number, driver’s license number, and home address. The individual’s personal information is documented as a transaction for the user requesting to be registered as an official voter. Next, a transaction is created to represent the government’s authorization of the user’s right to vote. When it comes time to vote, the user provides the same pieces of personal identification that were used to register along with their voter registration number, the password assigned to them during registration, and a scan of the QR code provided on their ballot. The blockchain system is then used to verify both that the voter is properly registered and that they have not already submitted their ballot.
Although the use of blockchain for voting has only narrow applications in the business world, it has the potential to be very useful for the government. Additionally, companies that wish to take on the challenge of developing an incorruptible blockchain voting system can certainly do so with the hopes of selling their services to the government. There are a number of benefits to the government. First, the current voting process is relatively ambiguous in that after ballots are submitted, it can be hard to know what happens to them and if they end up being counted. Contrastingly, with blockchain technology, there is far more transparency, allowing ballots to be tracked all the way from voter registration to ballot counting. Since blockchain uses extensive verification processes, there is a significant decrease in election fraud. Both of these features of blockchain voting help the government by streamlining verification processes and eliminating the need to hire and trust poll workers. Additionally, the increase in transparency and decrease in fraud serves to heighten public trust in the government and faith in democracy. The nature of the new voting process also allows ballots to be tallied immediately, reducing the amount of time between voting and release of results. This can be beneficial for potentially holding more frequent elections and referendums that individuals can easily vote on at any time. Another advantage of blockchain voting is that it is easily accessible. There is no need for people to take time off of work to go to a polling place, wait in line, and cast their ballots. They can simply do so from the comfort of their home which will likely increase voter participation. Overall, there are many advantages to using blockchain technology for voting that can and should be explored as an avenue for enhancing the representative nature of democracy.
Barnes, A., Brake, C., & Perry, T. (2016, September 29). Digital Voting with the use of Blockchain Technology. Retrieved October 05, 2020, from https://www.economist.com/sites/default/files/plymouth.pdf
Garner, B. (2020, May 26). How Blockchain Voting Works & Why We Need It. Retrieved October 05, 2020, from https://coincentral.com/how-blockchain-voting-works-why-we-need-it/
Mearian, L. (2019, January 29). What is blockchain? The complete guide. Retrieved October 05, 2020, from https://www.computerworld.com/article/3191077/what-is-blockchain-the-complete-guide.html
Tatar, J. (2020, April 22). Can Blockchain Technology Change How We Vote? Retrieved October 06, 2020, from https://www.thebalance.com/how-the-blockchain-will-change-how-we-vote-4012008