Blockchain voting

Hello, I am Philip Boucher from the European Parliamentary Research Service, here to talk to you about blockchain voting What is blockchain voting? In elections, we usually have a central authority that records, counts and checks all of the votes; and with blockchain, the process is decentralised

So everyone can hold a copy of the full voting record on their own devices The data is encrypted to protect the identity of individual voters Illegitimate votes cannot be added and the historical record cannot be changed, because everyone holds a copy and can check that all the votes comply with the rules and are counted properly What could blockchain voting do for decision-making? Blockchain voting has already been used for decision-making in smaller organisations, including political parties and companies Some say that blockchain could help voters to engage more deeply and make decision-making more fluid

People could vote regularly on all kinds of issues, they could update their vote if they change their mind, or set it to automatically 'follow' the votes of other individuals that they trust We could even encode elections into 'smart contracts' so that once the votes are counted, the results automatically take effect, like a self-implementing manifesto So, for example, a vote amongst shareholders about investment decisions could automatically sign contracts on behalf of the company This has led some people to ask whether we should use blockchain voting for major political elections So, should we use blockchain for the European elections? Well, proponents of e-voting have argued that it could improve voter turnout by appealing to young people and allowing citizens to vote on their own devices, whenever they want

But there is not much evidence to support that claim Furthermore, some people might not have a suitable device; so the authorities would have to make them available Also, the best way we know to combat vote buying and coercion is to use private voting booths But, in doing all this, we would recentralise the system So, while the beauty of blockchain was its decentralisation – with individual voters recording, counting and checking the votes themselves on their own devices – here we would end up, once again, with a centralised system

Finally, public confidence is crucial Any system has to be understandable and trustworthy enough, so that even if a voter is disappointed with the result, they can accept that it was fair and valid Since blockchain is more complicated than other paper and e-voting systems, we will probably not see it used for the European elections in 2019, or even in 2024 Nonetheless, it remains an interesting choice for decision-making in smaller organisations

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