Is it possible to make a better world with the help of blockchain and other such revolutionary technologies? We believe so. And the more people know about these possibilities, the sooner we can collectively use these technologies. This is why we continue exploring the capabilities of crypto-technologies, and the challenges that they could help us overcome.
Who to believe?
The principles of democracy cannot properly function without a complete trust in the legitimacy of election processes. As a result, the façade of the democratic election process thins—and often collapses—year by year.
April 2016, Philippines
A database containing information about the voting populace—55 million passports and unique fingerprints—was leaked to the Internet. Hackers undertook operation “For a fair election” ahead of the national elections on 9 May, and left behind an anonymous request to increase computer security before the vote counting period.
April 2016, Turkey
One of the most substantial leaks—50 million addresses and personal data on Turkish citizens, including the president and prime minister—hit Turkey prior to the elections. Information on the majority of citizens (out of 77.6 million total) was made publicly available as a result.
June 2017, Russia
There are still murmurs around the 2016 Presidential Elections in the United States—whispers that Donald Trump’s victory was secured by Russian hackers. In an interview with American network NBC, Vladimir Putin explained that databases are available to hackers across the globe, and that it is very possible the organizers of the attack lived in the USA. As a result, neither side can definitively say whether the hack influenced the results or where it even came from.
So, the election process isn’t protected from attacks, and the results of any election could be placed under reasonable doubt. Imagine a world where you can’t believe any information, as all data could be rigged. Imagine millions of people who don’t follow any laws, rules, or restrictions, simply because they can’t tell which rules are genuine. In this anti-utopia, every citizen lives in the riddle about the Cities of Truth and Lies, not knowing who to believe.
But what if you had a wonderful tool that allowed you to test the legitimacy of any information? Then the riddle disappears; we would only know the truth and worry not about trust. This technology is already here, and it’s called blockchain.
Blockchain over doubt and revision
Within blockchain, a decentralized database defends itself from fraud and manipulation. The scope of its potential implementation is undoubtedly large: from government regulations to electronic journals in schools. Blockchain solves problems regarding data authenticity in practically all cases. Because of this, it is seen more and more as a method to secure vital data and guarantee fair elections.
Russian business-ombudsman Boris Titov is certain that even partial implementation of blockchain in the election system could boost voter confidence in the election as a whole. According to the Commissioner of Entrepreneurs’ Rights, work has already begun on the creation of an election system based on blockchain technology.
The inevitability of the transition to electronic voting is noted even by the European Parliament. In October 2016, Philip Nicholas Boucher presented a draft document about the use of blockchain technology in elections. The transparency guaranteed by such a system would notably increase effectiveness and integrity in the electoral process, says the parliamentarian. “There should be no doubt that elections need Blockchain. There should only be one question: how to implement blockchain into the existing election system, and how this implementation will influence democratic development”, his report notes.
KeepKey founder Darin Stanchfield talks of the “global information environment”, in which hack attacks will keep getting more coordinated. “Unfortunately, the biggest problem with all of this is that digital security effectiveness is constantly moving goalpost”, says the KeepKey CEO. Blockchain, as a technology that is capable of defending itself from any manipulations, looks like the best solution to the problem cited.
How it would work
From a practical standpoint, the best option appears to be decentralized “mining” systems, created earlier for different purposes (such as the sphere of cryptocurrency). It’s both better and more reliable to utilize existing mass blockchain systems, rather than creating new ones altogether.
In smaller countries, established and proven “mining” systems will help shield the young “digital governments” from various negative factors, such as hacker attacks, political influence from other countries, or internal violations.
“Older” blockchains could be used for voting in larger countries as well; if only because important elections in larger states are always under threat of corruption. This includes campaign budgets, the organization of seats for vote collection, the struggle for state treasury access, and much more. Blockchain prevents unlawful intervention of “Big Capital” in elections; overwriting thousands of blocks in a chain at once is practically impossible, even if a crooked candidate has copious amounts of money and hired professionals at his disposal.
Blockchain technology for governmental use and political elections wouldn’t be a radical change everywhere. For example, Estonia has been actively building a digital government for over ten years. There, electronic voting is used on three levels: European Parliament elections, general elections, and local elections. Although not all citizens vote online, an impressive 30% of voters did so in 2015.
Another interesting blockchain project is practically ready for launch in Ukraine. E-Vox, the system in question, is planned to be first used for bodies of local governments.
The main goal of the project is to give citizens the ability to, at any moment, get precise information on government proceedings on any level. It will also give government officials complete, authentic, and accurate information, to allow them to make strategically important decisions across various levels and spheres of life.
Voting will be available on any platform—from smartphones to special city terminals. The system creators are planning to use either cards, electronic keys, or fingerprints (depending on the most appealing option for users) for identification. The founders hope that they will help bring a new period of democracy to Ukraine, as well as create an election platform safe from external influences.
If this gives people the guarantee for fair elections, then the government will also see more stability; people will no longer need to “vote with their feet”, the opposition will have no basis for starting witch hunts after every election, and there will be a sharp drop in the risk of political catastrophes and schisms.
To conclude, there already exists a solution that would make the electoral system secure, and leave no room for doubt regarding election results. Evidently, the use of blockchain technology in the election process is not only beneficial, but also necessary:
- Fraud and manipulation of votes is eliminated.
- Automated vote counting makes the process not only transparent, but also fast.
- In such a decentralized system, there are no vulnerabilities that could leave it open to hacker attacks.
It is true that we can’t yet use the full extent of this technology, as every citizen has a right to vote—including those unfamiliar with electronic devices. Every citizen would need access to digital technologies, and the skills required to use them; perhaps then we could see the birth of political systems more just than ever before.