Blockchain-Based Voting Could Fix Election Security in the United States -
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Blockchain-Based Voting Could Fix Election Security in the United States


15 March 2016 – There’s been a lot of contentious events surrounding privacy, encryption, and data security in the past few weeks covered in the media. With the US Presidential Primaries in full swing, and the presidential election looming closer on the horizon, few seem to be concerned with securing that most basic of civil liberties enjoyed in democratic nations: the right to vote. In the US, electronic voting machines, specifically the type manufactured by Election Systems & Software, are employed in the majority of US voting districts, and the security risks of their widespread deployment have been explored at length. Their issues are varied and they rely on a highly inefficient trust model. With Blockchain-based, cryptographically secure solutions becoming available, voters in the US should be discussing better options for ensuring their votes don’t get tampered with.

Read also: Tor Fingerprinting Makes Tracking Anonymous Bitcoin Users Trivial

Insecure Voting in the US Should Raise Questions


The widely deployed Diebold Systems branded voting machines in the US are far from secure. Their trust model includes closed source hardware and software developers, internet service providers, poll workers, and literally anyone who is allowed voting-level access to said machines.  Election Systems & Software reports a 60% market share in the US as of 2014. The ability of politically interested entities to alter a majority of voting machines in the US should send up immediate red flags.

VotingTheir security practices are so lax, in fact, that Avi Rubin, Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University described the process of hacking ES&S machines in detail back in 2004. While there isn’t currently a plain-English whitepaper on tampering with their voting machines, their largest competitor’s devices aren’t significantly more secure, and neither company has radically changed their trust or privacy models to match the gravity of defending the democratic process.

Ensuring the vote isn’t tampered with is a massive undertaking for any one central authority, and preventing fraudulent voting when around 92 million people each year have access to your hardware in a private setting makes the task seem next to impossible. These were valid arguments that make securing vote fraud look like a pipe-dream. I say ‘were valid’ because decentralized, cryptographically secured, publicly auditable voting systems are available now. They utilize the Blockchain to achieve a reliable, accessible polling system that is next to impossible to tamper with.

The idea of blockchain voting isn’t new either – The Ukraine may be using e-Vox, an Ethereum based transparent voting solution for their elections in the near future. Blockchain Apparatus has developed a distributed ledger, cryptographically secured voting machine for use in the US market, though it hasn’t gained much traction. Ironically enough, many representatives rallying against encryption have pushed for voter fraud prevention measures in the past, when the ideal solution seems incredibly unpalatable to them now.


Modern Electronic Voting still has serious issues

More important than securing the voting process without adding barriers to entry is making the ballot process transparent to citizens. Votes tallied on a distributed ledger are not only immutable, but easily deliverable to provide proof that higher level tampering hasn’t taken place. This type of tamper-proofing is even more important in representative democracies like the US, because it would make the electoral college more directly responsible to their constituents in a way that incentivises voters over campaign contributors.

Right now, Voting in the US is opaque, insecure, and easy to tamper with. This reality isn’t likely to change for the presidential election this coming November. However, a lack of better solutions is no longer an argument that can be made for the status quo. Whether or not you live in the United States, or plan on voting in the coming Presidential Election, Blockchain voting is likely better than the process your nation employs for transparency, security, and its citizens. The right to vote is a civic duty anyone participating in a democracy should seek to protect, and the blockchain offers an excellent way to do it. Voters should be asking questions about how their government ensures their voice is heard, and what better time to do it than the run-up to the presidential election?

What place do you think the Blockchain has in the democratic process? Let us know in the comments.

Images courtesy of E-Vox, Wikimedia Commons

Tyson O'Ham

  • if they could also fix voters that votes for Hillary that would be so great!

  • Gyst53

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry

    capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier

    to limit and undo the follies of the Obama presidency than to restore the

    necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to

    have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more

    serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the

    prince of deception should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of deceivers that

    made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who after all,

    is merely a ideologue. It is less likely to survive a multitude of blind followers such as

    those who made him their president.” – Foreign European Newspaper Article

  • Gyst53


    More Black Box Voting stories related to election protection tools –

    Advocacy: Sample letter to California legislators about SMS to improve voter lists:


    Election transparency: Election transparency is the public ability to see and verify each essential step in elections, the essential steps being: (1) who can vote (voter list), (2) who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list), (3) counting of the vote, and (4) chain of custody. Reasons for transparency with sources:

    All Black Box Voting stories related to election transparency:

    Voter list: The voters list is a fundamental component in any voting system. The primary purpose of the voters list is to confirm the eligibility of voters to participate in the election. Each voter should appear on the list only once and the residence of the voter must be correct in order to determine local ballot questions on which he/she is eligible to vote. More Black Box Voting stories related to voter lists:

    Vote suppression: a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by obstructing people from exercising the right to vote. It attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against the candidate or proposition advocated by the suppressors. Tactics can range from strategic “human error” to tricks that make voting inconvenient, up to removing names from eligible voter lists and/or intimidation of voters to prevent them from casting ballots. Black Box Voting stories related to vote suppression: ; Wikipedia:

    Vote stuffing: When extra, illegitimate votes are inserted into an election. Detecting ballot-stuffing depends a great deal on how good the record-keeping is. The number of persons on the participating voter list should match the number of ballots cast. One method to stuff ballots is to also stuff the voter list with false names, and arrange to insert votes under those names, either by absentee voting or through a poll worker. A more elegant strategy for ballot stuffing is to examine voter history lists and select legitimate voters who seldom vote, casting ballots under names unlikely to vote. Black Box Voting stories related to vote stuffing: ; Wikipedia: (Ballot stuffing section)

    Short Message Service (SMS): a text messaging service component of phone, Web, or mobile communication systems. It uses standardized communications protocols to allow fixed line or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. SMS was the most widely used data application, with an estimated 3.5 billion active users, or about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2010. Wikipedia:

  • Tyson O.

    Wow, incredibly informative post. Digestible and nonpolitical too, thanks!

  • Gyst53

    Information Technology is a 2 sided coin….it can be used for good as well as evil!
    I hope we chose the moral character and Integrity approach….
    God knows our hearts.