For many people, blockchain technology is synonymous with cryptocurrency. However, blockchain has a myriad of other applications outside of the sphere of digital finance (DeFi). Perhaps one of the most important uses of blockchain is the ability to facilitate secure and transparent elections. Considering all the news of controversy behind the recent US election, the need for a blockchain-based election system is more paramount than ever.
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How Blockchain Can Improve Future Elections
Almost all of the voting systems currently in use rely on a paper ballot, either cast in person or via the mail. A paper ballot isn’t verifiable and lacks reliability and traceability. A movement toward a digital system is the natural evolution of voting, but the security of the digital-vote process is of critical importance. Elections require privacy as well as security, transparency, and immutability. A blockchain voting system offers a solution that meets the criteria of all of these categories. Not only can the tech be secure, but it can also be loaded with privacy.
Blockchain technology brings security and immutability to the election procedure. A blockchain-based system will meet the technical requirements that elections need while simultaneously preventing bad actors from casting multiple ballots. Blockchain accurately and securely stores all data, affording voters data protection, and maintaining voter privacy. In addition to privacy, blockchain allows for the transparency of all data, allowing all who participate to verify their vote and see the results in real-time.
Problems with the Current System
There are several issues facing the current system. From limited access to polling locations and voter suppression to gerrymandering and voter roll purges, more than a few obstacles are impeding the free and fair election process. With all of the news regarding the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, the risks associated with large numbers of people congregating at polling locations have introduced a new set of complications to a system already mired in challenges.
One of the most prevalent issues facing the current system is voter fraud. Voter fraud comes in many forms. One of the most common types is impersonation fraud at the polls. This is when a person votes using another’s name, typically someone who has died, moved away, or has lost their voting right because they are a convicted felon, but remains registered.
Two of the other most common types of voter fraud are false registration and duplicate voting. These can sometimes overlap. False registration is when someone uses a fake name and/or address to register, or when they claim residence in an area where the voter does not live, and in which they are thus not eligible to cast votes. Duplicate votes happen when someone registers in multiple jurisdictions and casts multiple votes for the same election.
How Cardano will Improve Elections
The Cardano blockchain may be used in the future for national elections. As a matter of fact, in a recent interview with Cointelegraph, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson said: “We’ve been building the infrastructure for that.”
Hoskinson went on to explain in that same interview that Cardano blockchain can offer much more complex functions than other blockchains like Ethereum and thus with some research and experiments, Hoskinson thinks the Cardano platform will become the new industry standard. An interesting sidebar is that Charles Hoskinson is also a co-founder of Ethereum.
The only thing currently holding Cardano blockchain back is scalability. In the Cointelegraph article, Hoskinson said that he thinks this will take time. He believes he needs to first test the system via experiments in smaller, local, and state elections before Cardano can be used to replace legacy systems for elections on a national scale. According to Hoskinson, they have a team in Lancaster, England that regularly publishes research for blockchain-based elections.
In a sidebar of that news story, Hoskinson, unable to contact the President’s team via email, reached out to Donald Trump directly through a series of posts on Twitter. Offering his platform as a solution to the shortcomings of the current system, Hoskinson used the social media website as an advertisement for blockchain voting, trying to attract interest from the community and the news media.
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