In the technological sphere, the evolution of blockchain has been tremendous and has triggered the start of a new era in the internet and online service. In the most recent development, the United States Postal Service’s [USPS] patent that mentioned the use of blockchain technology in the U.S. 2020 Presidential Election has garnered significant headlines.
The USPS had recently filed a new patent that appeared to leverage blockchain technology to make mail-in voting a secure alternative to physical polling centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the global disruption, the need for remote voting is real.
Let’s dive deep into some of the implications. Jeremy Epstein, the Vice Chairman of the Association for Computing Machinery’s U.S. Technology Policy Committee, stated earlier that blockchain and internet voting were also susceptible to foreign intelligence attacks on the Internet and that the transmission of ballots via the Internet, including e-mail, fax and blockchain systems, continues to be vulnerable.
His main argument is based on the premise that the idea of malware on the laptops of the voters is often ignored. He further criticized the use of it in the voting process and raised concerns about the potential blockchain hack that could reveal the public vote of everyone.
E-voting continues to remain a critical topic. The tech does emerge as a great candidate, and many studies have found that Ethereum appeared to be one of the most suitable ones, primarily due to its consistency, widespread use, and provision of smart contracts logic.
Besides, according to several studies over the years, it was found that blockchain-based e-voting on Ethereum can essentially protect the user identity and preserve transparency and integrity of data.
While E-voting is often perceived as flawed in the security aspect, it would greatly help in advancing from traditional pen and paper election scheme to a less time consuming, secured with cryptography.
Blockchain can essentially help in transmitting a vote securely at the same time verify the correct vote and a tamper-free electronic record of all the votes while reducing the risks of incorrect vote tallies. This, however, does not eliminate the threat of a 51% attack by a bad actor other security concerns such as cryptographic flaws and software bugs.
Despite this, there are several instances wherein the technology has been leveraged. In April, the Utah GOP convention reportedly picked their nominees using a blockchain election platform dubbed ‘Voatz’. Previously in the 2018 mid-term elections, 144 West Virginian voters used Voatz to cast their ballots for the Senate and House of Representatives as well as for state and local offices.
More recently, the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee was also exploring blockchain technology as a potential solution to participate and vote remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.
All things aside, while the patent published by USPS was published keeping in mind the November elections, it is, however, many believe that it is impossible to develop a whole new, secure and robust system in less than three months. Despite blockchain’s popularity, it is still not a household name and hence it is of the utmost importance that the voters understand the mechanism of the electronic voting system which is not achievable in a little over 70 days.
On the brighter side, the USPS patenting for an important event such as the Presidential election using a blockchain-based e-voting system on the Ethereum network is a testament to the evolution of this space and a solution for real-life technology applications.