Last week, the chief election commissioner of India revealed that the Election Commission is working with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) on a blockchain voting system.
According to a report by local news outlet The Times of India, about a third of eligible voters did not exercise their right to vote in the 2019 elections. Many of them were unable to vote as they migrated away from where they are registered as voters. This is the issue of ‘Lost Votes’, and the Election Commission (EC) has been exploring various ways to tackle it.
India’s chief election commissioner Sunil Arora at a Times conference said the blockchain system would allow voters registered in any part of the country to cast their votes, irrespective of their current address. Arora said that the EC has proposed linking voter IDs with Aadhaar, according to an INC42. Aadhar, the citizen identity database, if connected to voter IDs, should allow better verification of individuals and enable a remote secure voting mechanism.
Blockchain voting has been trialed globally, in a bid to increase voter turnout. However, security experts have expressed concerns that mobile voting technology may potentially endanger democracy.
Recent research by MIT engineers found several vulnerabilities in a blockchain voting system called Voatz, The Verge said in a report. They discovered that hackers could potentially observe, suppress, and alter votes at will. An attack on the servers that manage the Voatz API might even be able to change the ballots as they arrive.
However, Voatz responded by saying the app version tested was 27 versions old, was never connected to their servers and characterized the research as flawed.
Medici Ventures, the investment arm of Overstock.com, released a statement in support of Voatz. Jonathan Johnson, CEO of Overstock and president of Medici Ventures, defended the use of technology for voting.