Opportunities And Challenges Of Blockchain For E-Voting
BANKING FINANCE|July 2021
Introduction The persistent pandemic has forced every industry to innovate their use of technology and find new ways of running the business with minimum disruption. Challenges with conducting elections during these uncertain times are not any exception.
N. Gopala Krishna Murthy

Traditional voting predominantly involves people standing in long queues in front of their designated polling stations and exercising their franchise using paper or electronic ballots. People have had their human rights compromised and their fundamental freedoms provided by their constitution taken away. The pitfalls of the current system of ballot voting are being taken as an advantage by people or organizations looking to gain power.

In the African countries of Uganda and Kenya there has been widespread controversy over their elections in recent years. In today's setting, finding contactless alternatives to in-person voting has become important. People are supposed to trust the result which is provided by an Election commission or a government body ensuring the election integrity and safeguarding its outcome even when remote voting becomes the new normal.

Technologies such as Blockchain have several inherent technology capabilities that are conducive for holding secure and yet transparent elections.

In the last couple of years, Blockchain has supported several elections, from Sierra Leone in 2018 to Russia in 2020. The US Postal Service (USPS) has applied for a patent for a Blockchain voting system.

The USPS is reportedly contemplating Blockchain as anamicable option for managing the mail-in votes that are expected to surge during the upcoming elections, due to the increased number of voters choosing to vote remotely.

What is E-Voting

Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is a process to exercise franchise by using electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes.

Depending on the particular implementation, e-voting may be referred to as using standalone electronic voting machines (also called EVMs) or computers connected to the Internet. It may encircle a range of Internet services, from basic transmission of tabulated results to full-function online voting through common connectable household devices. The degree of automation may be confined to marking a paper ballot, or may be a comprehensive system of vote input, vote recording, data encryption and transmission to servers, and consolidation and tabulation of election results.

A worthy e-voting system must perform most of these tasks while adhering to a set of standards established by regulatory bodies, and must also be competent enough to deal successfully with basic requirements related to information security, data accuracy, data integrity, data privacy, adoptability.

Electronic voting technology comprises of punched cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks (including self-contained direct-recording electronic voting systems, or DRE). It can also include transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet.

E-voting can be classified into two types:

  • E-voting with human intervention which is physically supervised by officials of governmental or independent electoral authorities (e.g. electronic voting machines located at polling stations);

  • Internet Banking based remote e-voting (also called ivoting) where the voter submits his or her vote electronically to the election authorities, from any location.

Electronic Voting system using Blockchain

Blockchain

Blockchain is a digital platform for digital assets. It consists of a continuously growing list of records known as blocks that are linked and secured using cryptography. Major usage of Blockchain has been in all cryptocurrency transactions, mainly Bitcoin. However, they are increasingly being used in several other applications because of their inherent resistance to modification to the transaction/block/whole distributed ledger - Blockchain. One such application is Electronic Voting. We will review some of the variety of blockchain technologies that are usable, scalable, and secure to fit for Electronic Voting Application.

A blockchain contains distributed ledger, digitized and consensus-based secure information storage mechanism.

This article is focused on the up-to-date state of blockchain-based voting research along with associated possible challenges while aiming to forecast future directions.Major players in the development of blockchain system are symmetrical and asymmetrical cryptography improvements. Blockchain-supported voting systems provides different solutions than traditional e-voting. The main prevailing issues are classified into the five following categories: general, integrity, coin-based, privacy and consensus. Based on the researches it was found that blockchain systems can provide solutions to certain problems that prevail in current election systems. From the point of view of government, electronic voting systems may increase both voter turnout and voter confidence and renew interest in the voting system. Amplified research demonstrates that implementing e-voting systems can enhance security. While adopting an electronic voting system, one must ask:

Why is the electronic voting system considered as a better option than a traditional ballot voting paper?

It not only improves the effectiveness and efficiency of democracy, but it is expected to be a solution for some problematic situations, such as improving accessibility to the election, the elderly and the disabled ability to vote, increase in election turnout, as well as being easy to operate and getting a quick result.

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