How many of you can prove without a shadow of doubt that during the last election your vote was counted? By proof I don’t mean the sticker you received that reads, “I Voted.” I mean a tangible immutable record that proves not only that you stood in line at the polling station but that your vote was counted and was credited to your candidate of choice. Unfortunately, with our current system, the truth is you can’t.
What if I told you there was an existing technology that would allow you to vote anonymously, track your vote, and verify it was counted all without the need for someone else to process it? This technology is called a blockchain – best known for its role as Bitcoin’s underlying technology. Bitcoin is widely known as an alternative currency, but when we look beyond the currency we find a technology that will dramatically change our lives.
As Americans we often think of voter fraud as something that happens elsewhere. We see YouTube videos of foreign ballot boxes being stuffed with counterfeit votes and trust that can’t happen here. However, with allegations of a “rigged” election, the possibility of voter fraud has cast doubt on the electoral process. This suspicion could be completely removed with a blockchain based voting system.
Blockchain technology guarantees three essential elements of a fair and free election: anonymity, immutability, and traceability. It does all this automatically without the need for a trusted third party, thus removing any doubt about the validity of an election. Blockchain technology uses cryptography to anonymously record and transmit your vote while ensuring that the process is tamper-proof. Additionally, you can watch the entire process unfold, from the time you place the vote to the time the vote is counted. Even more remarkable is that you will walk away with a permanent record of your vote that can never be changed.
The Bitcoin blockchain has been in existence since 2009 and has never been hacked. Every single transaction that has taken place with bitcoin is permanently and immutably stored in the blockchain. The high profile “hacks” that we read about are not hacks of the blockchain, they are hacks of applications that run on top of the secure Bitcoin blockchain. This is an important distinction-even when these third party applications are hacked not a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain has been changed. Immutability is not just essential when recording financial transactions, it is also imperative when counting votes.
Some of the world’s largest financial institutions have seen the promise of blockchain technology, with likes of the Barlcays, Goldman Sachs, NYSE and NASDAQ – to name a few- all beginning to use it for financial transactions. And now it is being used to count votes as well.
The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) announced that they are deploying a blockchain voting service. This new service will not only allow investors to participate in the voting at an Annual General Meeting, it will also allow them to observe the vote. This initiative parallels efforts by Dubai to create a blockchain enabled smart city.
E-voting using a blockchain is not some futuristic dream – it is already happening. Blockchain based government elections have already occurred in Denmark and are gaining traction in Norway and Spain. And now thanks to a company called Follow My Vote, U.S. citizens can use blockchain technology to vote in a parallel 2016 Presidential election.
The U.S. electoral process is one of the most sacred rights we enjoy as citizens. A fair and free election is fundamental to our democracy and we deserve unwavering faith in this process. Blockchain technology is one way we can ensure that the rights we enjoy are safeguarded and that every eligible vote is counted and credited correctly. No more hanging chads, no more voting “early and often” and no more doubt about our election.