Friday, November 16, 2018

Will blockchain make voting more or less secure?

     Greetings from Florida, the land of the endless voting snafus. As I continue my research on blockchain use cases, I’m particularly fascinated with the potential to make voting more streamlined and secure. West Virgina just used blockchain-protected voting in a general election for 144 voters in 30 different countries who were able to cast their ballots anonymously using a blockchain-enabled  app. Military personnel and overseas voters from 24 of the state’s 55 counties used the app from Voatz.. Under  the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Act, personnel verify their identities by providing a photo of their driver’s license, state ID or passport that is matched to a selfie. After confirmation of the identity, the voter receives a mobile ballot based on the one that s/hewould receive in the local precinct. 

     Although the technology is supposed to be tamper proof, some argue that blockchain voting can’t protect against server problems, internet outages, or hacks on the mobile devices. Nonetheless, many governments are exploring the technology for voting and other citizen services. The tiny nation of Estonia has led the way in using digital ledger technology for citizen services since 2008. Through its E-Estonia initiative, the government facilitates voting, education, the justice system, legislation and other services. Not to be outdone, Dubai plans to become the first blockchain-powered government by 2020. Visas, permits, licenses, and bill payments require 100 million documents annually, and  the government believes that it can save 1.5 billion dollars through a paperless system.

     Of course, blockchain isn’t a cure all for our voting woes, but as a Floridian who is still waiting to find out who actually won our gubernatorial and senatorial races, I’m willing to try anything.

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