Blockchain could improve the transparency of elections

A report by US think tank The Brookings Institution highlights that the use of blockchain in the public sector reached another milestone recently when West Virginia became the first US state to allow internet voting by blockchain in primary elections.

The report notes that, while the voter participation through this platform was estimated to be small, the intention of the administrators was to test the technology in a pilot project with no immediate plans to implement it at a larger scale.

While the West Virginia move was more of an experiment, the Brookings report notes that elections conducted using Blockchain technology could bring many benefits. Mobile voting using a safe and tested interface could eliminate voter fraud and boost turnout. It will make it more convenient for citizens to vote while abroad, irrespective of the distance and time.

As well as voters, the process could also bring benefits to the government. It provides a tool for the election commission to maintain transparency in the electoral process, minimises the cost of conducting elections, streamlines the process of counting votes and ensures that all votes are counted.

The West Virginia experiment had several security measures. A voter’s identity is verified using biometric tools like a thumbprint scan before voting on a mobile device. Each vote forms part of a chain of votes, where it is mathematically proven by the third-party participant. Using blockchain, all data of the election process can be recorded on a publicly verifiable ledger while maintaining the anonymity of voters, with results available instantly.

The Brookings report notes that at a time when elections — even in advanced democracies — are tainted with allegations of fraud or outside influence, the use of technology to eliminate rigging would bring greater trust and transparency.

For more on the use of blockchain in the commercial world, see also Early blockhain experiments in the real business world are pointing to some jobs of the future

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