By Perianne Boring/ Founder & President of Digital Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. has suffered its share of challenges when it comes to collecting and counting votes – from long lines at the polls, to ensuring citizens are registered (and motivated) to vote, to questions surrounding whether a chad was left “hanging” during the 2000 Presidential election, to a myriad of other concerns. No matter what side of the political aisle you fall, we can all agree that the process of casting a ballot could use some improvement.
Despite having evolved over time from the physical tokens used in ancient Athenian democracy to medieval little balls (“ballots”) to paper slips to mechanical voting machines to punch cards to optical scanners — the process of voting continues to be vexed with potential vulnerabilities and shortcomings.
Today, with the midterm elections upon us, the public is eagerly awaiting details on the progress made in the voting process. Could blockchain offer the solution?
How it Works: Blockchain Creates a Tamper-Free Electronic Record
One of the reasons that electoral officials have been slow to migrate voting online is fear that election integrity could be compromised by hackers. It seems the headlines are riddled with concerns regarding cybersecurity, so it’s no wonder. But that’s where blockchain comes in, which promises to combine much needed ballot security with voting convenience.
Blockchain integrates cryptography into software in a unique way. It creates a tamper-free record that can easily be checked to ensure votes are accurately recorded.
Due to the secure and immutable nature of blockchain, votes may be cast by computer or mobile device instead of having voters show up at a local polling place or cast a mail-in-ballot to be processed manually by election officials. Votes tracked through a blockchain provide for a quicker, tamper-proof way of counting votes, which could lead to greater voter participation, better ballot security, and at lower cost.
Blockchain’s Bolstered Security is Being Put to Practice Today
West Virginia, for example, is piloting a program to allow its military workers to vote remotely and securely via a blockchain-enabled platform from abroad. This election, all overseas workers from West Virginia will be offered the opportunity to vote via the blockchain network which will distribute and store the votes in 16 different locations – meaning hackers would need to hack into multiple locations in order to tamper with the results. In the nonpolitical voting zone, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used Chamber member Votem’s blockchain voting system to register 1.8 million votes. That 2017 Hall of Fame inductee process proved that blockchain voting could be effectively and efficiently used by millions, without fraud compromise or attacks.
Votem is introducing a token which will enable citizens to easily vote online, including from their mobile devices with an unprecedented level of verifiability, accessibility, security, and transparency.
Pete Martin, Votem Founder and CEO, sees the public’s leeriness of electronic voting and recent voting scandals as “both an opportunity and an issue.”
“It just requires more education on our part. People are fearful, and I get it. But we’re not going to shirk our responsibilities to make sure we can engender the trust with elections officials and people buying the system,” said Martin.
The implications for developing countries which do not yet have the voting infrastructure that the United States has are even more dramatic and could prove a powerful instrument for the continuing spread of representative democracy.
Voting should be as easy as hopping online from home to pay bills from your checking account. In today’s digital age, we can do better. By using blockchain to make voting more convenient and secure, we will encourage more people to vote.
Voting began, in ancient Athens, by the “casting” of clay or metal tokens. Now, in the 21st century, we are observing the emergence of 21st century tokenization of voting: casting our ballots via blockchain technology.
Welcome to blockchain: the 21st century way of voting.