Blockchain in Action: Helping Democracy Thrive – Secure Voting Systems

4 min read

In this installment, we’ll take a look at how blockchain can help make voting more efficient, by potentially allowing millions to vote through the use of their mobile devices. Moreover, they could do so without fear of their digital ballot being compromised in any way.

Voting today has some problems

The act of voting is the cornerstone of any democracy. However, surprisingly few people in the United States take the time to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, only 55.7% of the voting age population cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. In other words, almost half of the adults living in the U.S. were either unable or decided not to participate in the process.

In some cases, lack of voter turnout in America may be due to the quality of candidates presented to the public. That’s a problem technology probably won’t be able to fix any time soon. However, there are some issues with the election process itself, which make it difficult for many to participate.

For example, in the U.S., elections are held on a Tuesday – a day many Americans have to work. As a result, it can be difficult for some folks with challenging schedules to make it to the polls.

Of course, there is also absentee (mail-in) ballots. These were designed to be a convenient option for those who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Unfortunately, this method isn’t as effective as one might think.

Political scientist Charles Stewart conducted a study of absentee ballots during the 2008 presidential election. He discovered that 35.5 million voters requested a ballot, but only 27.9 million absentee ballots were counted. Stewart estimated that 3.9 million ballots never even reached the voter!

Being able to vote online would be an obvious way to address these issues. But it isn’t a very secure voting method and would make the process much more susceptible to fraudulent activity.

Secure voting with blockchain?!

Fortunately, blockchain tech could potentially offer voters a secure way to cast their vote outside the voting booth, through the use of a cell phone or other mobile device. This method would also alleviate any concerns about ballots getting lost in the mail. To learn more about what blockchain technology is and it’s benefits, check out our guide.

As Forbes contributor Mike Montgomery explains,

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that operates on multiple computer nodes. Every time a change is made to the chain (in this case, someone new casts a ballot), the entire ledger is updated. Because the information is not being stored in a centralized location, it’s virtually impossible to hack. Mobile phone technology, like fingerprint and face recognition, helps ensure that the person casting a vote is who they say they are.”

Comments like Montgomery’s demonstrate why the news site Tech Radar identified voting as one of the “10 sectors that blockchain will disrupt forever.”

The website Follow My Vote points out another potential benefit for using blockchain,

“by casting votes as [blockchain] transactions, we can create a blockchain which keeps track of the tallies of the votes.”

“This way, everyone can agree on the final count because they can count the votes themselves, and because of the blockchain audit trail, they can verify that no votes were changed or removed, and no illegitimate votes were added.”

The new technology has already been used in Estonia for shareholder voting. Moreover, the state of California has invested $143.3 million in installing new, secure voting systems. They are also investing in research efforts that could include open source systems like blockchain.

If utilized properly, blockchain has the potential to transform the way we vote for the betterment of all.

By now, many people have heard of blockchain technology. However, they may not be fully aware of all the ways this new tech is, or soon will be, changing the world around us.

In our series, Blockchain In Action, we take a look at some real-world uses for this digitized and decentralized public ledger. We discover how it can potentially help various industries become more profitable, increase efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, make our everyday lives easier.

For more awesome articles by Jacques Martin, check ’em out here