Can Bitcoin’s Technology Change The Way We Vote?

3 minute read

Posted by: DeepDotWeb

June 15, 2014

The concept of bitcoin as a currency is on trajectory to revolutionize the finance, banking and payment industries by shifting power back to the people, whose trust is placed in verifiable open-source code, rather than possibly corruptible humans with ulterior motives. And the main technology behind bitcoin – the blockchain – is set to forever shift the political paradigm in the same direction.

The voting process is notoriously prone to miscounted ballots, lost votes, low voter turnout, human error, machine error, manipulation and general corruption – and has been a public concern for centuries. On top of this, many feel that they can’t trust their elected officials, or feel misrepresented by them. All of which could be solved with blockchain voting technology.

With the invention of the internet came the real possibility of casting digital ballots from the comfort of your own home, or even establishing a direct democracy where every person has the option to vote on each issue. But so far, the biggest concern and prohibiting factor has been trust. Whether it be concerns related to hackers or lack of trust in the technology, there hasn’t been a good enough system developed to conduct widespread online voting.

That is, until the invention of the blockchain by Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s the open source, semi-anonymous decentralized public ledger system where all bitcoin transactions are recorded. And a revolutionary voting system could be built on top of it. Its irreversible, transparent nature lends itself quite well to political voting. It’s anonymous, people could see how many votes were cast, which votes were counted, examine the source code to verify integrity, and the decentralized network offers arguably the best protection against security exploits. Many tout the blockchain as being just as important an invention as bitcoin itself, if not more important.

Gone will be the days where people have to place trust in potentially flawed humans, political parties, governments or outdated voting systems.

From the point of view of a bitcoin enthusiast It seems like it may be only a matter of time time before a voting system built on top of the blockchain code is integrated into national elections in countries around the world. While it certainly has its own set of flaws, it’s possibly the best solution yet.

Here’s an example of how it could work:

Each citizen who wants to vote registers, specifies how many items they want to vote on, and is provided with an address, similar to a bitcoin wallet address. On the day of the election, vote coins are sent to all registrants, which are then sent to addresses that have been paired with an issue or candidate. Restrictions can easily be implemented into the system that prohibit sending more than one coin to each address, as can restrictions preventing people from donating their vote to others.

One idea for a similar blockchain voting system, called BitCongress, is currently in development, and will release a white paper soon explaining the details.

“BitCongress is a decentralized, peer to peer, open source voting system built onto the blockchain in a multitude of ways including Ethereum, MetaCoins, ColoredCoins & a mined crypto currency called Votecoin,” states the BitCongress website.

This system will utilize the Votecoin as mined vote token that is verified by the miners in the cryptocurrency 2.0 layers. Anyone with a program can plug into the BitCongress system and use the mined currency to verify votes. These votes can be counted in any way imaginable, giving a customized voting system that uses a standardized yet decentralized peer to peer system to verify the votes. It also will register all voting data on the systems blockchain as well as give polling data a whole new system to be built upon.

The Liberal Alliance, a Danish political party, recently became the first of its kind to use the blockchain technology when conducting internal elections.

“Blockchain eliminates the need for trust, as the technology can operate autonomously without interference from humans, and it is also open source and transparent so that anyone can look under the hood and see what’s going on. It does not get more liberal – so it is ideal for e-voting,” explained Mikkel Freltoft Krogholm, a representative for the Liberal Alliance.

While a tried and tested solution to internet voting using blockchain technology has yet to be released, programmers and blockchain enthusiasts are hard at work developing what many believe will be the next step in global political evolution. Only time will tell whether such a system is supported by the general populace or will be allowed to exist by the powers that be.

Updated: 2014-06-15