Can Blockchain Technology Secure Your Vote in Elections?
Nov 04, 2017 Posted / 6066 Views
Through claims of election rigging and unusual hack of a political party’s emails, voting security came into the list of hot argument. Even more with Bush v. Gore and the Florida recount of 2000. Further, FBI’s recent exposure of foreign hacking into two states’ election databases added fuel to the fire.
Formerly, Washington officials are highly concerned that - hackers will seek to gain access to the outmoded voting machines, incorporating very little technical sophistication and manipulate votes cast for the next U.S. president that was going to take place in November.
Even though, some of the cybersecurity experts have encouraged for the ultimate security measure in order to protect U.S. elections from foreign tampering - offline paper-based elections.
In Virginia, the state that famously withdrew its frighteningly hackable voting machines last year, Thus, Follow My Vote - the startup presented an alternate to safeguard against vote rigging that isn't to revert to no or low-tech, but through the implementation of blockchain technology.
Apart from the obvious issue of scale, Nathan Hourt - Follow My Vote’s co-founder and CTO – deliberate paper-based voting systems riskily, only depending on the procedural security of officials can make the process to move correctly and honestly. However, offline systems don't have any method to identify a breach of security, not even they`re able to determine - whether complete original ballots are present, any extra ballots have been supplemented, or any ballots have been tampered with,” Hourt argues. In this way, the risks are intensified in national elections. “The more a paper-based system attempts to put up, the simple it turns out to be - for a fraudster to scam”
By generating a convenient and secure end-to-end voting system that is an open-source and auditable, Follow My Vote intended to combat electoral fraud and protect user credentials. The model enables voters to skip the lines of casting votes online from home - by means of a webcam and government-issued ID. Theoretically, the virtual electorate watches the election in real-time entrusting the veracity of results to the underlying blockchain auditability features.
How a voting platform secures touts transparency?
Cryptography is the answer! Protecting each ballot while restricting tampering from end to end, keeping votes unidentified and absolute though tamper-evident on the blockchain ledger. Using a private key and unique voter ID, each voter is allowed to modify his or her vote any time - during the election.
At Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science, Dr. Feng Hao co-lead of the Secure & Resilient Systems group argues that “end to end verifiable voting systems incorporates the advantage of enabling a voter to confirm - if their vote is appropriately recorded and correctly included into the tallying process. In addition, if ballots are misplaced in transit or modified, it can be detected by voters.”
Hao, who is yet testing the viability of a small-scale e-voting application over blockchain, at present phase - tempers his expectations of the technology. “Until we have actual results, we can’t assure whether the blockchain-based voting is actually a viable idea.”
Verified Voting Foundation`s president, a non-governmental association devoted towards the consistency and security of election results in the digital age, provided a restrained assessment of the technology. Pamela Smith replied, “Blockchain is exciting but does not seems to solve many issues involving Internet voting,”
An expert in cryptographic voting systems, Dr Jeremy Clark at Concordia University, recognizes the potential qualities of blockchain in confirming election integrity, but you should be cautioned as it might lead to new risks. “If voters generate or else offered cryptographic keys to practice in the voting process, hackers will focus on finding the middle ground of these keys through interception or malware.”
Hackers have already made success in finding cryptocurrency keys, and the same can also take place with election keys, especially in a process - where voters used to vote from their own devices. “Requiring consumers to manage cryptographic keys seems to be difficult through usability tryouts,” continues Clark. Also, he - as a substitute assures for a hybrid alternative. “An end-to-end confirmable voting system uses blockchain, as a public ledger but involves voters to show up and vote in person. Thus, it seems to be an excellent option for elections today,” said Clark - but reaching beyond that is too risky.”
To assure, the promise of disruptive technology - blockchain has had its share of, well, disruptions. But researchers have pointed out the high-profile and high-payout robberies hitting cryptocurrencies are much more associated with negligence or the disaster of insider threats or bugs in the underlying code - as with the blockchain itself. A researcher under Hao, Patrick McCorry, says, these bugs can cause a major threat to any application on the blockchain, including voting.” Even though, Hao and his team develop a blockchain e-voting platform, still there dedicate extensive research identified potential misuse cases that require preemptive measures in place.
The necessity for further investigation has been recognized by Follow My Vote. Also, they openly invited hackers to test their platform during Follow My Vote’s online mock U.S. Presidential election. Hourt says,” we have completely designed a secure blockchain-based voting system functioning in isolation, yet there need additional efforts to deploy that system in any real-world voting scenario without opening up new vulnerabilities,”.
Further, Hourt made the mock election - an opportunity, offering voters a chance to involve themselves with an alternative way of voting. Politician is very much aware that voter trust is critical to a campaign: similarly, the obstacle for e-voting end-to-end verified platforms isn't a technical one, but in winning over a would-be electorate in order to trust their authorizations to a platform connected with cryptocurrency theft and the black market. However, if an indication is considered from history, usually convenience has higher chances of winning out over security.
Eventually, the thing that is certain - even though the introduction of more secure voting systems, such as the one Follow My Vote envisions - it doesn`t make an end of politically-motivated cyberattacks. With an increasingly-hyper connected and sequentially higher hyper-responsive electorate, the strategically-timed hack and data leak is completely effective and definitely more customary for political rivals both foreign and domestic.
Applancer is an open platform for discussion on all things like Blockchain , Cryptocurrency and Ico news updates. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Applancer .
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