In recent days, many industry participants and experts relayed their opinions that blockchain technology can ensure election results’ accuracy. The application of the technology was widely discussed following the United States Presidential election. Precisely on November 5, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) suggested blockchain-based voting can hasten results and improve the election process.
The technical challenges with making a secure cryptographic voting system are significant (and often underestimated), but IMO this is directionally 100% correct. https://t.co/J0qHiN2bbk
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 5, 2020
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, agreed with CZ’s view. However, he added that the technical challenges with making a secure cryptographic voting system are significant.
While the industry experts believed that blockchain-based voting could improve the voting system, MIT researchers say such statements are “misleading.” In a publication today, the researchers argue that electron and blockchain voting systems will only result in more electoral problems. “I haven’t yet seen a blockchain system that I would trust with a county-fair jellybean count, much less a presidential election,” said Ron Rivest of MIT.
MIT Says Blockchain-based Voting Isn’t the Safest
The researchers explained that blockchain-based voting could not address the fundamental security problems experienced with other electronic voting systems.
Blockchain technology may introduce even more problems when implemented. The researchers further argue that certain changes could go undetected with the blockchain. A single error or vulnerability exploited can cause repeating a whole new election. As such, the researchers said that blockchain-based voting systems are poised for severe failures.
It is worth noting that no major exploits have been discovered in public blockchains used for voting purposes. The researchers are – seemingly – hypothesizing what CAN happen if these concerns aren’t taken seriously. If the example in Zug is anything to go by, the concept of blockchain-based voting still has merit.
Paper Ballots are Safer
It will undoubtedly take some time until blockchain-based voting systems are embraced by the mainstream. There are other systems in place until the proper audits of blockchain code can be executed by reputable auditors.
“Exposing our election systems to such serious failures is too high a price to pay for the convenience of voting from our phones. What good is it to vote conveniently on your phone if you obtain little or no assurance that your vote will be counted correctly, or at all?”
– MIT researchers
The researchers maintained that the physical nature of voting guarantees more security and accuracy than blockchain-based voting systems. Per the publication, in-person voting and mail-in ballots are harder to exploit.
Paper ballots serve as a viable medium for voters to verify their ballot accurately. In conclusion, the researchers note that “a key goal of an election is to prove to the losing party that they did, in fact, lose.” With blockchain solutions in their current form, it is unclear if similar results can be achieved.