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How Secure is Blockchain Tech for Electoral Voting

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As blockchain technology is being explored for voting in elections, some of the experts have reservations on its usage. Read on to know more about it…

As blockchain has become more acceptable, the same technology is being explored for voting in elections. The topic of election security has been in the spotlight after few security experts warned that any Internet-based election system is wide open to attack, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. Still, many argue that blockchain is the way forward and can make elections fraud-proof. Former American presidential candidate Andrew Yang said in August last year that he planned to implement blockchain-based mobile voting if he won the election.

Blockchain Voting in US
In the U.S., several state and local governments have been exploring using blockchain technology for voting. In 2018, West Virginia began allowing certain voters to submit their ballots using the technology via an app called Voatz. Pierce County in Washington state is also using this app in its blockchain voting pilot. Ohio has identified two key public sector blockchain applications: property record management and voting. The government of Chandler, Arizona, is also exploring using a blockchain to allow registered voters to cast their ballots electronically. “It would empower voters that may not otherwise be able to make it to the polls have their voice heard,” the city explained.

Blockchain Voting in India
Recently, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has reportedly revealed that Election Commission of India is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology to develop a blockchain system for voting. The new system aims to allow Indians to vote even when they are away from their hometowns.

The Indian state of Telangana, for example, is exploring the use of this technology in this area. In its “Blockchain Policy” report, published in May last year, the state government emphasized that “Blockchain has relevancy in a wide variety of areas, including tax filing, voting, land registry, healthcare, creating tamper-proof voting records, vehicle registries, fraud-proof government benefits disbursements, and digital identities for individuals, such as refugees, who lack government-issued identity documents.”

Security Concerns
While paper ballots are said to be outdated for the latest tech experts, several of them also oppose the idea of digitized voting because of the fear of hacking. In a recent report, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s security analysis of Voatz, the self-styled first internet voting application used in United States federal elections, resulted in claims of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. According to researchers, it was possible to “alter, stop, or expose a user’s vote, including a sidechannel attack in which a completely passive network adversary can potentially recover a user’s secret ballot.”

In a report published in June last year, the California Senate Office of Research wrote “The potential security benefits of blockchain technology have led to several proposals to apply it to an array of voting applications, from securely storing voter rolls to allowing voters to record their votes remotely through an app.” However, the report points out that cybersecurity and election experts “have expressed skepticism, saying the online platforms are no more secure than other online ballots. They are concerned that blockchain addresses only the security of a cast ballot but does not help to authenticate voters or the security of voters’ devices. Others have raised concerns that Internet voting systems cannot be audited with a level of confidence comparable to physical polling places.”

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