Smart city

Will we all soon be voting via the blockchain?

  • 23 May
    2018
  • 2 min

The blockchain provides an excellent means of verifying a person's identity without divulging his/her personal data. This could be a real boom for online voting.

It is thought that the personal details of some 143 million US citizens may have been compromised in the recent hacker attack on Equifax. In the wake of this scandal, lots of people are now wondering what's going to happen when we shift to an online voting system. To the rescue Palo Alto-based startup Civic, which has developed a blockchain-based system for ensuring the security of citizen data. The system enables each and every person to store all their personal data in encrypted form in a secure, decentralized database. Using a unique authentication key, they will then be able to identify themselves online whenever they need to do so, enabling third-party organisations to guarantee the integrity of a transaction without handing over any personal data. The system will therefore enable the identity of any voter in an election to be verified, to check that s/he is actually eligible to vote and that s/he casts only one vote, at the same time maintaining the voter's anonymity. Meanwhile Votem is exploring the same territory, developing a system – also using blockchain technology – that enables citizens to vote in a secure manner on their smartphone. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company argues that this mechanism will help to discourage abstention by making it easier and more convenient to vote, reducing the risk of electoral fraud, and consequently restoring public trust in the democratic process. Having carried out a number of dry runs at private elections, Votem is planning to put this technology to the test at the forth coming mid-term elections in the United States, scheduled for November this year. However, it remains to be seen whether (and when) this kind of approach will win over the political classes and the authorities.

By Guillaume Renouard