The November 3 presidential election in the United States was initially contentious, but unfounded and inaccurate accusations of electoral fraud by defeated President Trump have cast a veil over the entire process. Daniel Hardman, chief architect and head of information security at Evernym, a self-sovereign identity solution, believes blockchain could help general voting in the future.
“Basically, the blockchain can provide a way for voters to be reliably and securely registered to vote, and then when the votes are cast, the blockchain can be a mechanism to prove that someone has the right to vote, on the basis for its pre-registration, ”said Hardman Cointelegraph. “The blockchain can provide some functionality that would help audit a vote in an election,” he added.
Republicans were reluctant to accept a victory from Biden, although the electorate verified the results earlier in December. The rationale ranged from accusations of faulty or manipulated voting machines to allegations of forged ballots appearing en masse on critical voting sites. None of these charges, however, were raised in court.
“The recent things we’ve seen with electoral challenges in Pennsylvania and Arizona and so on – there are certain features of the blockchain that would have made it possible to do more robust audits,” Hardman said. “Basically you can take away any concerns about tampering and things like that.”
With public blockchains, such as Bitcoin (BTC) for example, every transaction is recorded on an immutable public ledger, making audits more foolproof and transparent than centralized or paper-based processes. Applying this technology to voting could achieve similar results for voting.
Although the model appears transparent and immutable, how would the authorities know if the votes are coming from citizens who have voted only once? “What you want is what’s called end-to-end verification,” Hardman explained. “On the one hand, the front side is the recording part,” he said, adding:
“You have to know that a person can only register once, which means when someone comes to register you are doing what you would in a physical electoral mechanism today, that is that is, you check the driver’s license, you see if their pictures match, their signatures, all that sort of thing.
Then, under the hood, the technology ensures each person only one vote. “On the backend, you prove that for any given entry you can vote for exactly one vote,” Hardman said.
An extremely complex subject calling for varied solutions based on different threat factors, a voting system involving a blockchain can include specific components to prevent voter fraud and malware, such as biometric voter identification. “If you know that, you know, John Smith of 123 Main Street in Pennsylvania has a particular fingerprint, then it’s pretty hard for someone else to vote on his behalf,” Hardman explained.
Having said that, what then is preventing governments and businesses from taking advantage of this personal information for tracking and other uses? Hardman explained China and its COVID prevention measures as an example of a privacy breach. The country has tracked the temperatures of its people, based on who they are and where they are, he said.
“In the case of elections, what you would like is to separate those two issues,” said Hardman. “The question – is the party that is trying to vote allowed to do so because it has been previously registered in the system – is a question,” he noted. “The question ‘who is this person’ is a different question,” he explained, adding:
“There are parts of an election where you might want to ask both questions, but there are other parts where you don’t need to ask both, and if you separate them, then you can stop the government from doing that – having kind of an apocalyptic surveillance state that knows what vote you cast and when you do it and stuff like that. “
A key to the problem? A blockchain technology called zero-knowledge evidence, according to Hardman. Zero-knowledge evidence essentially verifies a person’s identity without actually revealing their private data. “You ask someone at the time of registration to properly identify, you know, who they are, where they live, etc., but when they vote, what you ask them is to prove that ‘he has the privilege of voting. without revealing who they are, “Hardman explained.” You are further asking them to prove that their vote has not already been tracked in the system […] which ensures that you cannot vote twice. “
Over the past few years, blockchain has grown in popularity for its utility in a number of common processes, such as supply chain activities.