Blockchain Voting – Making Elections Secure

“Blockchain Voting – Bringing Transparency to Voting Operations”

The foundation of a democratic society is laid by its voting mechanism. The traditional ballot enables the general public to visit allocated polling stations and vote for a candidate. Votes are recorded in a ballot and checked once the whole process is complete.

According to the survey done by Heritage Foundation, approximately 1,177 cases are found to be proven instances of the voter fraud across the US.

Here, is the real voter fraud case that happened in the Washington, US:

During the 2008 general election, Janice Waters, from Marysville, WA, was guilty of doing illegal registration in the wrong county, ballot fraud, and illegal double voting in the election. She cast a vote for her son, who was a convicted felon and not eligible to vote.

During the investigation, she told the County Sheriff’s Office that she did not cast vote and suspected that her mail had been intercepted. But, once the investigation got over, she was founded guilty and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Preventing such election fraud is crucial to safeguarding the virtue of the voting process.

What if the democratic societies throughout the world would use a secure online platform, which could bring transparency into elections’ results?

The blockchain, decentralized ledger technology can offer better security, high transparency, reduce the cost of holding an election, simplify the vote’s count and maintain the voter’s privacy.

Let’s understand why do we need the blockchain voting solution

Read further to know how the current voting process has become complicated than ever:

  1. The traditional voting system does offer anonymity to the voter, but the counting process is not transparent. Only election officials know what happens to your vote once you punch it. People have only choice to trust the voting result, declared by an election commission or the government entities.
  2. Democratic countries experience dictatorial regimes, which increase the fear of terror among their people. Such type of threats related to elections could be avoided if the process for conducting the elections was fair, transparent and verifiable.

There are various issues related to the current voting system such as vote stuffing, voter-ID laws, booth capturing, outdated voting machines, long elections period and big queues at polling places. All these reasons frustrate voters and lose their confidence in a democratic voting system.

The blockchain system can solve maximum issues mentioned above while replacing the traditional voting process.

Blockchain – Transforming the traditional ballot system

In comparison with the current system, the blockchain voting system is fair, secure, transparent and offers real-time counting and processing.

User-interfaces in the blockchain voting platform:

  • Native Mobile application for voters and voting candidates
  • Web portal for voters, voting candidates and election administrators

Stakeholders involved in the blockchain voting platform:

Voter – Who will vote for the candidate standing in the elections based on their capabilities.
The voter must have a smartphone or computer with the front camera. Using the internet connection, the voter can register and vote as well through devices. If the voter doesn’t have a phone or PC, they can visit the polling booths or cyber cafes to vote.
Candidate – A person who participates in the elections to represent a specific political party.
Using the web portal, the candidate who participates in the election can receive the votes in their blockchain platform account. They can check the number of votes in their account during the election.
Election Administrators – Who manage the entire process of the election.
The duties that performed during elections are done by the election commission. They observe and verify the votes in the blockchain system and perform the audits at any time. They specify the election type, create, activate and close the elections. Once the elections are conducted, they can post the reviews confirming the validity of the election results.

The Blockchain voting system could have the following steps:

Step 1: Candidate’s registration
Candidate can register on the blockchain enabled platform to receive the votes during elections. For registration, candidates need to submit PII (personally identifiable Information), that would be stored on the public blockchain(1).

The candidate’s information is accessible to every stakeholder involved in the system. The stored details on the blockchain could help voters to know about the candidates and their capabilities before voting.

Once the candidate successfully gets registered on the platform, the private key would be generated, enabling candidates to check the number of votes in their account during elections.

Step 2: Voter’s registration
To register on the platform, a voter would need to submit PIIs and proof of their citizenship. And, all the users’ information stored in the IPFS(3).

The information submitted by the voter would be verified through existing government-approved systems. If the documents are checked and found to be correct, then they are allowed to create their account on the system.

After successfully signing up on the system, the private key would be generated and the public key will be saved on the blockchain after getting verified.
Using the private key, the voter can cast vote during elections.

All the information submitted by the voter is encrypted by the private key. Moreover, voters can view the candidate’s profile to check his capabilities before casting a ballot.

With no doubt, the critical aspect of democracy is the secret ballot; thus it is essential to maintain the anonymity of the voter’s vote.

Step 3: Voting on Blockchain
On the election day, participating candidates can receive the votes in their account on the blockchain voting platform.

At the time of elections, every voter needs to login to the platform by using the private key. And, if it’s valid, then voter can cast the vote to their choice of candidate.

The voter can encrypt their vote with the public key and send it to the Arbitration Server(2), ensuring the voter’s anonymity.

Meanwhile, the AR(2) is responsible for sending the voter’s vote in the form of the voting token to the appropriate node. Each node would verify the transactions according to the regulations built in the Smart Contracts.

The Smart Contracts would cross-verifying the votes received with the number of voter’s voted in total against all candidates.

Casting the ballot on the Blockchain involves sending the voting token to the candidate’s account. When the voter logs in the system, they have the limited time period to send the vote to the candidate’s account. If they are unable to send votes in the set time period, the smart contract would destroy the voting tokens.

The vote stored on the blockchain is verifiable, immutable and transparent.

Step 4: Verifying the vote
The verification process of the voting depends on the type of elections. Some elections allow for short-term results and some do not.

If the election allows for the short-term result, then one of the blockchain’s nodes could be made publicly accessible. On the blockchain system, the voter could enter the public key and verify whether their vote was counted.

If the election’s organizers want to keep a secret result, the voter could only get a binary verification via the arbitration server. But, at the end of the election, the voter will be able to verify whether their vote was counted or not for the election.

With blockchain, voters can track their vote and can verify if it ended up in the right candidate’s account. Though voter’s information is not tied to it, the voting history would be saved on the blockchain.

Step 5: Counting the votes
Voting could be transparent with the blockchain system as it makes easy to follow and evaluate votes in the real-time.

Each voter can vote once for the candidate of their choice. And, the candidate who has the highest number of voting tokens in their account wins the election.

For voters who abstained from voting, their voting tokens will be sent to an abstain account, ensuring their vote does not get misused. The counting of the ballots is so easy and can declare the winner of the election in the shortest span of time.

Step 6: Election’s results
Using the blockchain voting platform, the elections’ result is instant. The pre-defined rules built in the smart contracts notify the stakeholders that voting has been closed along with the election results.

Stakeholders can evaluate the results visible on the public blockchain(1).

Well, as we have discussed how the Blockchain voting system would work, let’s understand the social advantages of the system:

  1. The system would increase convenience for voters who found trouble for moving around to vote.
  2. It is a fast and secure way to vote and can increase the number of voters since the process does not take up too much of their time.
  3. While the system is highly transparent and traceable, it can help to build trust amongst the people towards the government.
  4. The blockchain voting system is environment-friendly as compared to the paper voting system. It eliminates the need for paper voting and reduces the carbon emitted by the logistics of those ballots. Hence, the system has a lower carbon footprint.

Elections are a crucial aspect of democracy. Any government party or electoral committee will do their job very sincerely when it comes to changing the way elections are held. The blockchain voting system not only handles voter privacy and auditability but also offers a transparent and traceable system for verification of the ballots. Moreover, the blockchain platform is cost efficient as compared to the traditional system and can transform the way of voting.

To acquire more information about how the Blockchain voting works and its implications for the world, contact our blockchain experts. We can provide you with in-depth knowledge about the Blockchain technology, so discuss your requirements with us.

Glossary

1. Public Blockchain Component Public Blockchain is an open source and not permissioned. In the public blockchain, any user can participate without permission and can send transactions within the network and expect to find them stored in the blockchain if they are valid.
Here, the actual voting takes place. The voter’s vote would be sent to one of the nodes on the system. Then the node adds the transaction to the blockchain through smart contracts. The regulations made in the Smart Contracts are followed by the nodes not only to verify but storing the vote on the system.
2. Arbitration Server (AR) The arbitration server can act as an intermediary between a voter and the blockchain voting system. Using AR, the voter will be verified while voting. The AR blockchain records the voter’s vote to the blockchain node. Also, AR is responsible for sending the key to the voter to encrypt their vote. The voter can verify their vote using an arbitration server as an intermediary.
3. IPFS (Interplanetary Filesystem) It is used to store data in the distributed database. Voter’s information such as PII and citizenship proof would be saved in the IPFS, ensuring privacy and anonymity during voting.

Author’s Bio

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Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the author of Blockchain Technology and Business book. He is the co-founder of LeewayHertz and is a consultant to fortune 500 companies including Siemens, 3M, Hershey’s and others. He has a Masters Degree in Computer Science. Akash’s experience of building over 100+ apps allows him to rapidly architect and design solutions. His ability to explain complex technologies in simple and practical ways has resulted in him becoming a popular speaker at colleges, universities, and conferences.
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