I'm seeing some really bad takes on blockchain based voting, mostly based on specific possible implementations. This is like dismissing email because you don't like AOL's email client. Here's the reality -
2/ Blockchain voting could include as much or as little secrecy as desired. It could function identically to paper ballots with no information tied to the individual being recorded. Why might this be dramatically superior to paper?
3/ Because it allows voters to verify that their vote was recorded and recorded correctly, and to verify for themselves high level fairness of the election (like total votes cast by region.)
4/ They could do this, for example, by generating a public-private key pair at the time of voting. Nothing about that pair is connected to the voter in any way. The public key is connected to only the vote (not the voter), and the private key lets the voter audit the vote.
5/ Software based voting is risky - we already have this risk in the US with voting machines. Why would anyone oppose at least adding the ability to spot failures in the software? Why not add an audit trail to risky software operations so we at least know when they fail?
6/ And the status quo is awful. Much of the world faces explicit election tampering at grand scale, and even in the US we have easily hackable voting machines and frequently "lost" paper ballots.
7/ given the dismal current state of voting and the massive potential improvement in transparency and fairness by allowing for cryptographic verification and auditing of an election, and the fact that we're already taking the risks of software without most of the benefits...
8/ one really has to wonder at the generic dismissals of cryptographically secured voting. I think it comes mostly from basic misunderstandings of both how voting currently works and of how cryptography facilitates auditing.
9/ none of this is to say that we should hold the next national election on a blockchain. As with all new tech, bug are inevitable; caution is sensible. First, extensive testing, and then start small.
Adrian the Drummer @Mixed__Money
#4 is the part where most the breakdown comes in. Love the idea of generating keys on site for a vote, not a voter. However, there has to be a verification system that the votes are casted asap or within a very small time frame, right? Dont want votes for sale on the open market
10/ some new weird objections: does this add friction? Is it harder for voters? NO! The process can be literally identical to a current voting machine; the voter is simply given the *option* to walk out with a public key they can use to audit the election.
Interesting point - there's all sorts of complex choices that can be made, but this could be done identical to current voting. Verify identity as you do now, walk into voting booth, vote, and walk out with a private key if you so desire.
11/ oops, that should read "walk out with a private key they can use to audit..."
William Minshew @wminshew
agreed pub-priv keys will play an important role in future votes, but what does a blockchain add that a gov't-run append-only db wouldn't?
12/ a bit of a correction: I've been sloppy in using the term 'blockchain' when what I really think brings the value is the use of public-private key encryption to audit votes. Beyond that, blockchains may add little or no value to voting.
Maybe very little. I added a 12th tweet to my tweetstorm about this. One benefit is simply that government can't "lose" election results and start over. Sounds silly, but this happens often in developing world.