Election processes have ceased to deserve the confidence of voters. Society is starting to implement blockchain elections to avoid social upheaval. There are many advantages to a distributed ledger for voting, but there are also obstacles to implementing it immediately.
What is a distributed ledger election: a utopian technology that will never become mass and successful, or a real way to make the procedure transparent and manageable?
Blockchain election is an independent regulatory technology that confirms that a particular citizen cast his vote for a particular candidate. Each voter can make sure that his vote is accepted exactly at the moment he pressed the button. At the same time, any other user can see the chain of vote recordings and verify its authenticity, not identifying the voters. Decentralization, transparency, and anonymity make elections on the blockchain an attractive idea that can become a new chapter in the history of democracy and freedom of speech. Let us figure out how it works.
Blockchain elections: the first blockchain president was elected on March 7, 2018
. It was a milestone date for all election technology based on a distributed registry. On that day, the African country of Sierra Leone held presidential elections in which blockchain was involved. However, it was limited and used only for verification of paper ballots. The Swiss company Agora developed a private structure with a small number of authorized users who had access to the registry, which, according to the company's representatives, guaranteed transparency, and independence of elections. In the case of the elections in Sierra Leone, the Red Cross, the Graduate Technical School of Lausanne, and the University of Freiburg were the guarantors.
Now, this past solution does not seem to be perfect and trusted enough
. Almost three years later, blockchain elections are becoming mature and vital technology. We are witnessing civilizational shifts that are evident in the global social, economic, and political upheavals.
The new mentality tumbled old constants, which yesterday seemed unshakable, from the pedestals - whether political parties, global brands, or social balances. Even Western countries with traditional and well-established democratic traditions are in immense confusions. The protracted last presidential election in the United States
made people outraged by the archaic electoral process in the cradle of democracy. How did it happen that the country that gave the world an iPhone and Tesla counted hand-operated ballots for a week and fiddled with mail?
There are several obstacles to the technology implementation for safe and transparent voting and the establishment of a trusted cyberdemocracy. A deep mistrust, devotion to traditions, and fear of the unknown once again hinder a decent future:
. For all citizens of the country to vote with a distributed registry, it is necessary to carry out total technical modernization. At the very least, it is crucial to provide all regions with a stable internet connection, tools, and to create the blockchain network itself - a safe, transparent, confidential, and cost-effective resource. Any mass events cost the state a lot, but the implementation of blockchain voting is a significant, expensive, and long-term solution that scares the government with its scale.
Hesitation to change traditional elections
. Transparency of a system based on a distributed network is not what some election commissions require. Politicians in many countries will oppose this technology. Other structures accustomed to the formality of the voting process in decision-making will not be pleased about the appearance of blockchain elections as well. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development names “cultural resistance in public organisations” as one of the key obstacles
Distrust on the part of the voters
. In Geneva, the local electronic voting system was tested for hacking. Hacking was a success, but instead of solving security problems by implementing more sustainable solutions such as blockchain, the Geneva authorities have curtailed funding for the modernization of local electronic voting technology. Confidence in electronic voting was a key reason for closing funding.
The paradox of our time is that the more advanced the technology is, the more difficult it is for ordinary citizens to comprehend. Blockchain voting is difficult for the average citizen to perceive. The imposition of using technologies seems for people much eviler than the preservation of traditional primitive techniques of vote counting. However, qualitative results eventually force people to use technology, regardless of whether they like it or not.
. Authorities in Zug, Switzerland, have taken a different path and experimented with technological elections on the blockchain. Blockchain eID-System technology
was successfully tested at the end of November 2018. According to experts, with blockchain technology, the results of the vote will not be falsified. But to use it, the voter must be an advanced user of digital technologies, have their digital ID (digital ID or eID). However, of the 220 e-ID holders in Zug, only 72 agreed to participate in the experiment.
At the same time, the testing of blockchain voting in Zug was successful. The ex-mayor of Zug, Dolfi Mueller, was optimistic that the first experience would expand the use of blockchain.
It may seem that elections on the blockchain are used exclusively for political voting. But much greater success elections on the blockchain have achieved in the private and business environment where the stakes are not so high. There is an opportunity to experiment without influence and pressure.
Australian service Neutral Voting Bloc (NVB) is a prime example of this. Although its creators call their creation a political application, now it is rather a recommendation. The principle of action is quite simple: users through the NVB blockchain express their opinion on political and social issues, choosing certain answers. In the future, when making decisions, the authorities can focus on these applications.
According to the authors, the Australian government has a positive view of this technology and often considers the wishes of citizens. This example is quite impressive because it demonstrates the smooth implementation of elections based on a distributed ledger. Now NVB is just a service from third-party developers. Politicians can attend to it, or they can ignore it. They are comfortable: there is no responsibility for the work of the application, but at the same time, there is an easy way to learn the spirit in society and to react quickly. Australians, on the other hand, seeing their choices work, are increasingly using the service. So, it gradually penetrates everyday life.
The widespread introduction of decentralized voting systems in the business environment and politics is a matter of the future. However, the growing popularity of such projects will affect the development of technology and its widespread use.
With the contemporary realities, it is reasonable to assume that in the foreseeable future the mainstream will be determined by three different voting procedures. The choice and adaptation of these procedures will depend on the degree of the technological education society. In societies with strong democracy and religious traditions, the highest voting technologies associated with a full-fledged blockchain apparently will not be established in the coming years. The reason is the low level of technological literacy of the population and, as a result, the lack of trust in incomprehensible technologies. Accordingly, these countries will count the votes by hand
, making almost ritual procedures a measure of trust.
The second likely course is the adaptation of a high-tech surrogate
, which will happen in traditional societies without democratic cores. As in Sierra Leone, blockchain will get stripped-down functions, or it will not be a distributed decentralized ledger at all.
The third trend is likely to be confirmed in the foreseeable future in the world
. The full-fledged blockchain must ensure absolute transparency
of the process at all stages: from registering the voter and fixing his voice while maintaining a full pseudonym to counting and announcing the results. Blockchain as technology
becomes an independent auditor of all the future choices and changes on both local and global levels. For a society to accept such a vote process, confidence based on a rational understanding of technology is vital.
Unfair distribution of resources in the face of global overpopulation is the path to violence and authoritarianism at a new technological level. A comprehensive study and the application of technology only will lead states to prosperity.
It remains a matter of small: to bring the technology of decentralized ledger to the level of practical functionality. In the next years, we will cease to be associate a perfect form of democratic expression with old rituals. The world needs a global restructuring and a new global social agreement
that gives equality and decent resource distribution. Today, there are all the necessary solutions and developments in our hands.