Voting is a vital part of establishing societal administration through a democratic measure. Even a single vote has the power to change the dynamics of a nation.
Tampering with votes is considered a serious offense as it is detrimental to a nation's civil and political interests. However, the current voting systems have a lot of challenges that might lead to fraudulent activities.
Strict measures are necessary to contain the issues related to privacy, trust, and accuracy of the voting systems. While governance and surveillance are essential to establish such a voting system, technology must act as an enabler. To improve the resilience and efficiency of voting systems, electronic voting machines have been used for a long time.
Nevertheless, the problem doesn't stop there. These systems need to maintain voters' anonymity, integrity, and non-repudiation. To adopt such systems on a larger scale, blockchain systems are necessary. Blockchain can act as the biggest enabler of resilient and secure voting systems.
Challenges of Modern Voting Systems
Modern voting systems mainly comprise e-voting systems. These came into the picture to ensure a faster and more precise voting process. However, there are key challenges that lead to irregular and inadequate adoption rates of such voting systems, the major concern being cybersecurity.
These challenges can be broadly classified into the following four categories: security, voter authentication, accessibility, and voter anonymity. Let's understand the challenges in each of these categories in detail.
1. Security: Unambiguous identification, authenticity of the e-voting servers, unique and universal voting, protection of privacy, prevention of hacker attacks on voting devices, vote transaction from client to server, and absence of a central server platform are major security issues hindering the voting system.
2. Voter authentication: Authenticating voters through the electronic identification process is highly necessary to initiate remote internet-based voting systems. However, due to reliability issues without physical tokens, online voter authentication is a challenge.
3. Accessibility: Accessing the voting locations and standing in a queue is a big concern among voters. This leads to less voter participation in the elections. If technology could address the challenge of accessibility, increased voter participation can be expected.
4. Voter anonymity: Unlinkability and voter anonymity are impending challenges in modern voting systems. Receipt freeness must be achieved through technological solutions.
Looking at these challenges, blockchain can be considered the most effective solution due to its inherent immutability and security. Securing voting systems via blockchain integration can solve most of the above-mentioned challenges.
Enhancing Modern Voting Systems With Blockchain
Blockchain systems offer the advantage of end-to-end verification in addition to decentralization, security and privacy protection, and non-repudiation. Blockchain technology consists of a list of blocks integrated using cryptographic techniques. A timestamp, hash, and transaction data are attached to each of these blocks.
The nature of the blockchain itself has received attention among commoners and policymakers since it maintains secrecy and transparency. These characteristics of blockchain can be leveraged to build a secure voting system with the following benefits:
Eligibility of voters
Privacy of voting information
Fairness in avoiding intermediate votes
Soundness through the detection and elimination of invalid votes
Tallying valid votes
Using blockchain, invalid voters can be detected and removed easily. For instance, voter identification numbers could be entered into smart contracts. If during the voting process, the voter ID is not involved in the contract, the vote cannot be registered. In such a way, blockchain ensures that no invalid or fake votes are cast. Votes can also not be updated once cast.
Smart contracts can be devised to deny voting access at various suspicious points. For instance, once the voter logs into the portal, their voter ID can be verified in the list. At later stages, the voter's age, constituency, voting status, and voting date can be verified. Whenever any suspicious activity or data reflects, the smart contract can be triggered to deny such votes.
The advantages of secured voting systems via blockchain integration include the following:
Low setup cost
Faster process and accurate votes
Blockchain, along with smart contracts, creates a secure, reliable, accurate, faster, and transparent voting system. Database manipulation and hacking are very serious issues as it trespasses on the interests and rights of the voters. This becomes a pressing concern in the election process.
Overcoming these issues directly impacts the voting sentiments and trust in the administration. The growing popularity and nearly pervasive use cases of blockchain technology make it the perfect solution.
It is both computationally and practically impossible to change records that have been created using blockchain technology. Hence, secure voting systems that are being enabled through blockchain are impossible to tamper with.
Blockchain can thus be very effective in addressing concerns related to privacy, voter anonymity and authentication, security, and accessibility.
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