How Blockchain Can Change the Way People Vote

Zoya Sergeeva
July, 2018
Whether you're an investor or merely follow the fluctuations in the bitcoin rate, it's hard to deny that the cryptocurrency has created a lot of noise. Bitcoin was made possible thanks to blockchain technology. But the latter's many functions and advantages mean it can be used for much more than just trading cryptocurrencies.

Blockchain technology is now used in various sectors around the world such as banking, healthcare, supply chains, etc. But it also has huge potential for conducting online elections. The technology can help implement fair and secure elections, cut costs and increase voter turnout.

Blockchain technology offers more security than a simple server vulnerable to hacking. A blockchain is a database controlled by all the network members and not just by a single entity such as a bank or government agency. Therefore, in order to hack a blockchain, it would be necessary to hack all the computers on the network. The information in a blockchain is encrypted in such a way that it cannot be modified or deleted without leaving a record of the change. In theory, all sorts of information, from birth records to business operations, can be written down in a blockchain, creating a permanent and indelible document that cannot be tampered with, for example, by corrupt officials.

When the blockchain conversation turns to voting, each transaction involves a vote being received rather than cryptocurrency being exchanged. Those with access to the voting process can add their votes to a blockchain where their choice is safeguarded and transparent. Of course, another important element of any voting system is voter anonymity.

In Polys, anonymity is achieved thanks to crypto algorithms that are used together with blockchain technology. When creating an encrypted vote, a pair of keys – private and public – is generated. The private key remains with the Organizer to decrypt the voting results. Voters receive a public key from the blockchain that encrypts their votes.

How does it work? Well, in the blockchain, there is a smart contract for encrypted voting. A smart contract is associated with the so-called encryption key, which is necessary for encrypting and then decrypting votes. After the encrypted voting starts, the public key is published in the smart contract by the Organizer and is made available to verified voters. When voting, the system will automatically load this data and encrypt the votes.

This is necessary to protect voter identity and is especially useful in cases where the authorities are harassing voters or the current government wants to neutralize or punish the opposition.

Just like in traditional elections, independent observers are still necessary. No voting system can guarantee completely transparent and fair elections on its own – even if it's based on blockchain technology. However, in the case of Polys, the monitoring function will be available to all interested participants, even if they have minimal technical knowledge. We are currently working on the Inspector app that will help the designated person(s) control the voting process, add encrypted votes to the blockchain and monitor their security. This means no candidate or party will be able to manipulate the voting or commit other types of election fraud.

Use of blockchain technology can go a long way to ensuring elections are fair in both developed and developing countries. According to the Pew Research Center, 84% of U.S. households have computers, and about 77% of adults have smartphones. Among millennials, 92% of respondents said they own a smartphone. There are also potential online voters in the developing world, where the share of smartphone ownership has grown to 37%, compared to 21% in 2013. Polys, a simple and easy-to-use platform for online voting, is capable not only of getting more people involved in democratic processes by increasing turnout and voter activity but can also reduce the costs associated with holding traditional elections.

But we shouldn't forget about the prejudices getting in the way of implementing blockchain voting. Despite all the advantages, just 1% of enterprises are actively deploying blockchain technology. A major educational program is needed to dispel the misconceptions of businesses, governments, and ordinary citizens. Without a detailed explanation of the principles behind blockchain technology in general and the Polys app in particular, voters will not trust the system. That's why the main mission of Polys is educating users and changing the perception of blockchain voting.

As always, we invite you to hold your first free online vote and evaluate the benefits of the Polys voting app. Enjoy!