Blockchain technology, despite being fairly nascent, has been touted by many as beneficial in various instances, voting being one of them. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), however, this is not the case.
Online Voting With Blockchain Not Secure
The idea of online voting has been touted for quite some time in countries around the world. As blockchain-based technology began to make ways, voting seemed like one of its best use cases.
Its decentralized nature means that no central authority could impact the results, while its immutability means that alterations would be challenging. On top of all that, the transparent auditing of blockchains could, in theory, guarantee the level of control needed to prevent vote manipulation.
That’s not what the American Association for the Advancement of Science believes, however. In a letter to the Governors, Secretaries of State, and State Election Directors, the AAAS lays down its conclusions on both online and blockchain-based voting.
“Vote manipulation that could be undetected and numerous security vulnerabilities including potential denial of service attacks, malware intrusions, and mass privacy violations, remain possible in internet voting.” – Reads the letter.
The document doesn’t stop there.
“If a blockchain architecture is used, serious questions arise regarding what content is stored in it, how the blockchain is decrypted for public access, and how voters are ultimately transferred to some type of durable paper record. No scientific or technical evidence suggests that any internet voting system could or does address these concerns.”
Is There Merit To AAAS’ Claims?
Diving deeper into the letter, one can find certain merit in the point the AAAS is making. According to it, “Internet voting should not be used in the future until and unless very robust guarantees of security and verifiability are developed and in place, as no known technology guarantees the secrecy, security, and verifiability of a marked ballot transmitted over the Internet.”
Indeed, one can easily question the security protocols that would be put in place for a system of the kind.
Moreover, voting is a process set forth in existing regulations and it is managed and governed by selected authorities. Putting voting on the blockchain won’t nearly be as easy and convenient as one might think as it would require an entirely new regulatory framework. Ultimately, it’s likely that the same authorities will be in charge of it, leaving little change to the existing systems.