With the 2020 presidential election coming up soon, questions and concerns are on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many unsure of voting safety, with mail-in ballots being the solution. However, could blockchain technology be what the United States needs to modernize the voting process?
Blockchain is typically a decentralized way to use cryptocurrency. On a country-wide scale, though, it could create a more advanced way to vote. The main setback is making sure that the blockchain voting platform is secure and private.
Ideas of Integration
The 2020 election brings an unsettling environment for voters. After Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Americans want to know that their votes count and that the election is free and fair. Then, with the added unrest about voting in person due to COVID-19, this upcoming election is like no other.
It’s important to note that the current system has flaws. Whether it’s voter suppression in different states or dispelling President Trump’s false claims about mail-in ballot fraud, the current voting process is not perfect.
In addition, the U.S. is a modern country, but the voting system has seemingly fallen behind. Due to these areas of concern, blockchain technology enters the picture with the potential to shake things up for the better.
By nature, blockchain is a decentralized ledger that stores information in “blocks” which people can only alter with permission from all parties involved. It’s a secure and private system that, in theory, would work well for an election. In practice, though, things get complicated.
Blockchain on the Rise
The crypto world is growing in popularity. In fact, many companies are using blockchain to invest in and trade stocks. Plus, big data is becoming an integral part of U.S. voting and elections. With the constant progress in the tech world, it makes sense that blockchain becomes the next step for the election process.
The rise in popularity brings with it many advantages. For instance, a blockchain-based system would allow more access to voting. It would require a digital platform — like a secure app or website. Therefore, people who are working or busy during election day would have an easier time voting.
Additionally, convenience is the name of the game for many — having the ability to vote with a few clicks, without leaving your home is ideal. In theory, it’s a secure and easy way to do your part.
On the other end, though, is where there are concerns. Blockchain, being the digital chain that it is, will come with security issues behind the scenes. It does offer more security than standard transactions or virtual interactions, but it’s not foolproof quite yet.
For instance, Moscow attempted to use an Ethereum-based voting system in 2019. The system ultimately failed due to security concerns.
Blockchain raises the issues of voter fraud, security, integrity and confidence. If Americans can’t have each of those things when voting, then it likely won’t work as the official system.
What Still Needs to Happen
In order for blockchain to become a standard in the U.S., it needs a few changes.
First, tech experts need to find the best way to integrate it. It will require a platform that all can access. If it’s exclusive to mobile devices, for example, not all Americans will be able to participate. The platform will also need to be infallibly secure. Then, with the right accessibility and privacy, the system will need to count votes accurately.
Blockchain will need to earn the trust of the public, too. West Virginia, Colorado, Oregon and Utah recently used blockchain for local elections but had security vulnerabilities in the process. Americans want to know that these issues won’t be recurring.
There will also need to be a team of experts that always tends to the blockchain platform. What if there are tech issues along the way? How does verification work? Can they smooth disruption and distrust with the safety of the platform?
It’s a complicated dynamic, but one that has potential — especially as voting machines have growing vulnerabilities in the U.S.
The Future of Voting
It would take quite a bit of adjustment and trust, but the future of voting could involve blockchain. With the right changes and security, it could be the next, natural step for modernizing U.S. elections. In the end, it’s up to elected officials and the voters to decide.
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