Forbes recently published an article about the possibility of using blockchain technology to secure elections. With all of the recent talk about hackers targeting U.S. election systems and blockchain hype cycle in full effect, this seems like a natural story to appear. Considering we have been working on ablockchain voting machine for almost two years now, we felt it necessary to chime in.
What was the article’s conclusion? The blockchain is not a magic bullet that can solve the troubles associated with online voting. Dr. Jeremy Clark, a cryptographic voting systems specialist at Concordia University stated, “A [sic] voting system that uses a blockchain as a public ledger but requires voters to show up and vote in person is an excellent option for elections today, but reaching beyond that is too risky.”
That is the same conclusion we arrived at when we set out to create a blockchain-based voting system. The foundation of our system — we call it “VoteWatcher” — is the use of paper ballots. Paper ballots have two key advantages over an online or fully electronic voting process. First, they are familiar and trusted. Everyone understands that they mark the boxes next to their desired candidates and hand in their ballot. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, paper ballots leave behind physical evidence.
In the event of a re-count or investigation, what are you left with in a purely electronic (online) election system? Zilch. And that’s a problem that not even the blockchain can solve. Why? Because even a system that records votes received in a tamper-resistant way (such as on a blockchain), an audit of these records would simply be a review of the computer/software’s calculations and not an attempt to discover actual voter intent.
The blockchain voting system being developed by Blockchain Technologies Corp. uses the blockchain as an additional audit trail. It is more of a secure snapshot of what was recorded by our (open source) machines on election day than the source of data itself. The actual document of record in any election we do will always be the actual paper ballots themselves.