Elections with Blockchain Technology

Pros and Cons of technology in the largest democracy of the world

Sign about abuse of power on black background with blue ink
Sign about abuse of power on black background with blue ink
Elections with blockchain technology

Case Study: How India missed an opportunity to create history in 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionise the electoral process by providing a secure, transparent, and tamper-proof method for voting. Let's explore in detail how blockchain can be applied to national elections, ensuring integrity and transparency, and address potential challenges and theoretical concerns.

Step-by-Step Explanation of Blockchain in Elections

1. Voter Registration:

- Voters register through a secure platform that verifies their identity using government-issued IDs and biometric data. Once verified, a unique digital identity is created and recorded on the blockchain.

- Each voter's digital identity is cryptographically linked to a public-private key pair. The public key is shared, while the private key is securely stored by the voter.

2. Casting Votes:

- Voters use a secure application to cast their votes. They sign their vote with their private key, ensuring the vote's authenticity.

- The vote is then encrypted and sent to the blockchain network. The network nodes validate the vote by checking the digital signature against the public key.

3. Vote Validation:

- Nodes in the blockchain network (which can include independent observers, NGOs, and governmental bodies) validate the votes. Each vote is checked for authenticity, ensuring it comes from a registered voter and has not been tampered with.

- Nodes reach a consensus using a consensus algorithm (e.g., Proof of Stake, Delegated Proof of Stake) to validate and record the vote in a new block.

4. Vote Counting:

- As votes are validated and added to the blockchain, they are simultaneously counted. The blockchain's transparency allows anyone to audit the vote count in real-time.

- The immutable nature of blockchain ensures that once a vote is recorded, it cannot be altered or deleted.

5. Results Announcement:

- Once the voting period ends, the final vote count is tallied and published on the blockchain. This result is transparent and can be independently verified by any interested party.

Security and Tamper-Proof Nature of Blockchain in Elections

- Immutability: Once a vote is recorded in a block, it cannot be changed without altering all subsequent blocks. This ensures that the recorded votes remain unchanged.

- Transparency: All transactions (votes) are publicly accessible on the blockchain, allowing for full transparency and audit-ability.

- Decentralisation: The blockchain is maintained by a distributed network of nodes, reducing the risk of a single point of failure or centralised tampering.

How safe is this system at various levels of its implementation

1. Majority Attack (51% Attack):

- Theory: If someone gains control of more than 50% of the network's computing power or stake, they could theoretically manipulate the blockchain.

- Practicality: For a national election, achieving such control would require an enormous and highly coordinated effort involving substantial financial resources and technical expertise. Controlling a majority of nodes in a large, decentralised blockchain network is exceedingly difficult and impractical, even for well-funded entities.

- Mitigation: Ensuring a diverse and large network of nodes makes such attacks infeasible. National elections can utilise a consortium blockchain where multiple stakeholders, including government agencies, international observers, and civil society groups, operate nodes. This distributed control further mitigates the risk.

2. Node Incentives:

- Nodes (validators) are incentivised to validate transactions (votes) through rewards. These rewards can be in the form of digital tokens or other compensations.

- Incentives ensure that nodes act honestly, as any malicious behaviour can lead to the loss of their stake or reward.

3. Proof of Concept (PoC) and Consensus Algorithms:

- PoC: Before deploying blockchain for a full-scale election, a proof of concept should be conducted. This involves testing the system in a controlled environment to ensure its security, scalability, and reliability.

- Consensus Algorithms:

- Proof of Stake (PoS): Validators are chosen based on the number of tokens they hold and are willing to "stake" as collateral. This is more energy-efficient and economically incentivises honest behavior.

- Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS): Stakeholders vote for delegates who validate transactions on their behalf. This enhances efficiency and scalability.

4. What if somebody tries to bribe the Algorithm Writer:

- Mitigation: Consensus algorithms and blockchain protocols are typically open-source, allowing the community to inspect and verify the code. This transparency reduces the risk of malicious code being introduced.

- Community Governance: Decentralised governance models ensure that changes to the protocol require consensus from a majority of stakeholders, making it difficult for any single entity to manipulate the system.

Case Example: Blockchain-Based Voting in Estonia

Estonia has been a pioneer in integrating digital solutions into its governance, including blockchain-based voting systems for various types of elections. Here’s how it works:

- Voter Authentication: Citizens use a secure digital ID system to register and authenticate their identity online.

- Vote Casting: Voters cast their votes through a secure online platform, which encrypts and transmits the votes to the blockchain.

- Validation and Recording: The blockchain network validates and records the votes, ensuring they are tamper-proof.

- Result Verification: The transparent nature of the blockchain allows for independent verification of the vote count, enhancing trust in the electoral process.

This system ensures that every vote is accurately recorded and counted, making tampering virtually impossible.