Context

  • Can the Blockchain technology prove as a more cost-effective and technologically superior resolution for exiting voting system in India?

Key highlights

Blockchain Technology

  • Blockchain technology was first developed in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • Since its inception, it has been used as the basis for several cryptocurrencies from around the world, including Bitcoin and Bitshares.
  • Blockchain is a sort of distributed ledger or decentralized database that keeps records of digital transactions.
  • The ledger can record many transactions such as monetary transactions, property transfer, and even ballot storage.
  • When a digital transaction is carried out, it is grouped together in a cryptographically protected block with other transactions
  • Each transaction is recorded and stored in the ledger that is out on a public bulletin board. Every transaction adds a block to the chain of transactions and each one is assessed by every user based on algorithms agreed upon.
  • All transactions that occur on a standard Blockchain are verified and signed with cryptography to ensure security and anonymity
  • Rather than being kept in one location, a copy of the blockchain is stored on every user’s server so that a user cannot alter it without other users finding out.
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Blockchain for voting

  • In blockchain voting, each transaction is similar to a vote and through the use of multiple Blockchains along with public key encryption, the voting process is thus secured while protecting the anonymity of voters.
  • The votes can then be randomized several times in the digital ballot box so that voter’s identities are not disclosed.
  • After the polls are closed, a separate blockchain application is created for the counting of votes in the digital ballot box.

Application in Indian Voting System

  • Following the EVM hackathon by various leaders in India, Blockchain may prove as an effective way to ensure transparency and undo such allegations.
  • Over 32 blockchain firms were founded in India in 2016, up from 23 founded before 2016, according to a fintech report by PwC.
  • Moreover, blockchain is in various stages of implementation across the world for voting and other public services.
  • With the deep penetration of electronic devices such as cellular phones and the unique identification (Aadhaar) system, blockchain could prove as a feasible alternative to fight voter fraud and ease vote authentication concerns.
  • The Reserve Bank of India’s research arm has also advanced proof of concepts with a few banks on blockchain, and it had stated that the results were quite encouraging and were confident in the implementation capability of blockchain technology.
  • Aadhaar cards and electronic-know your customer (e-KYC) norms have already become conventional.
  • KYC is the process of a business identifying and verifying the identity of its clients, used widely by companies and banks.

 Countries implementing Blockchain technology in the voting system

  • Australia has declared its plan for using blockchain in voting and began projects for prototyping the technology a couple of years ago
  • In 2014, Denmark’s Liberal Alliance political party voted in a blockchain-based system for its internal elections. Such systems have also been adopted in Norway and Spain
  • Malta with a relatively small population of 450,000 is all set to introduce blockchain in land registry, voting and other national services.
  • In a South Korea (Gyeonggi-do), a province government, used the blockchain platform in a local funding ballot where around 9,000 votes were submitted.

Way ahead

  • More Transparency: A transparent voting system is a pre-requisite tool in order to run any democracy. It thus becomes even more important to make the system as transparent and unbiased as possible.
  • Efficient Implementation: The fact that Blockchain is relatively a new technology, a complete change in the voting system might not be a viable solution. Although Blockchain may prove beneficial if implemented on only some levels during the initial period, this would help retain much the needed transparency in the election system while simultaneously countering any (alleged) loopholes in the existing voting system.
  • Answer to all ambiguities: Keeping in mind the emergent and potential threats to the current system of voting (allegedly), it is essential to experiment with new technologies that can potentially secure the system.

 Q&A

  • The (1999) existing electronic voting machines (EVM’s) system in India needs a change, on account of recent allegations raised by many political leaders. Comment?

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