Voting With Blockchain – Pros and Cons

Conor Maloney

November 17, 2018

Blockchain has been proposed as a potential solution to the issue of electronic voting. While paper ballot casting is extremely expensive and inefficient, electronic voting is simply not secure.

A Harvard group investigating the Swiss e-voting system concluded that it was too vulnerable to be relied on, saying: “It is reasonable to assume, however, that the systems will be exposed to higher numbers of attempted attacks and manipulation as the use of e-voting becomes more widespread.”

Even e-voting software developers have turned on their work, with GNU.FREE developer and Brighton City Council member Jason Kitcat saying of his voting system:

“Through working on this I came to the conclusion, now shared by most computer scientists, that e-voting cannot be delivered securely and reliably with current technology. So I stopped developing the system but continued to campaign on and research the issues.”

Some blockchain advocates believe that due to being significantly more secure and auditable than other forms of digital information databases, blockchain could be the answer to the problem – a solution that meets both methods in the middle. However, many cybersecurity experts are also firmly against the idea of any form of digital voting whatsoever.

Blockchain Pros

The whole point of blockchain is that it’s trustless and unhackable, or near enough. By storing data on multiple nodes in different locations which must all agree in order to function, there is no central point of attack, distinguishing blockchain from traditional e-voting database architecture. West Virginia recently trialed blockchain voting with the information stored in 16 locations, meaning for hackers to access it they would need to successfully hack all 16 places at once.

Furthermore, because blockchain networks keep a perfect and complete record from start to finish on multiple nodes, the information is easily audited and its authenticity easily verified. Conceivably, blockchain voting systems could be made open-source for the public to verify that no manipulation has taken place.

Blockchain is undoubtedly more secure than other forms of data storage, but in terms of e-voting is doesn’t yet meet every need.

Blockchain Cons

There are a few issues that are seemingly unaddressed as of yet when it comes to blockchain voting. One of them is anonymity and the importance of preserving voter identity while simultaneously verifying that the right person is voting in the right place, and only once.

There simply doesn’t seem to be a solution to this at the moment, and critics are concerned that voter identity could be compromised in any blockchain system, or rather, that any blockchain system which doesn’t compromise the identity of the voter would not technically be doing its job of ensuring that each registered voter gets one vote.

Furthermore, when it comes to mobile voting there are concerns that phones infected with malware will be unsuitable for transferring votes securely according to computer science professor J. Alex Halderman, known for successfully hacking voting machines.

Yes or No?

So far, the answer seems to be: not yet. It’s possible that more satisfactory blockchain voting solutions will emerge as it continues to be tested around the world, and while it’s certainly a highly promising concept, there are sill a few kinks to be worked out before the general public can simply download a light node blockchain app and cast their vote in a few seconds from the comfort of their own home. Maybe some day!

Crypto is Coming!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Interested in other cool crypto content? Check out The Dawn of Crypto Lending and ICO teams paying for “fake” volume!