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Does blockchain beat the ballot box?

In October, Greenland was reported to be exploring the feasibility of an online voting platform for its national elections. Among the options being considered is a blockchain-based system. 

That isn’t entirely surprising. Electronic voting, or e-voting, has long been viewed as a promising use case for blockchain technology. “It’s time for online voting,” wrote Alex Tapscott in a New York Times opinion piece in 2018. “Using blockchain technology, online voting could boost voter participation and help restore the public’s trust in the electoral process and democracy.”

It seems especially timely now as large swaths of the world’s population are raising questions about election integrity — most notably in the United States, but in other countries as well, such as Brazil.

Tim Goggin, CEO at Horizon State, for one, believes that blockchain-enabled elections represent a “significant improvement” over the way most elections are operated today. Voting machines break down, software fails and election irregularities often create uncertainty and doubt among the voting public.

With a public blockchain, by comparison, “it is much easier for voters to trace their vote,” Goggin told Cointelegraph, “and audit an election themselves.”

Moreover, if something untoward does occur in the voting process, it is easier to identify it on a decentralized ledger with thousands of nodes than on current tabulation systems “where counting is done behind closed doors,” says Goggin, whose company set up a public election for South Australia in 2019, the first time blockchain technology was used in the voting process for that Australian state.

Still, blockchain technology’s potential vis-a-vis public elections has been highlighted off and on for some time now. No country has yet to use blockchain technology in a national election.

Marta Piekarska, senior DAO strategist at ConsenSys, recalls working at Hyperledger in 2016, where blockchain voting was discussed as a promising use case. “Six years later, and we are still talking about this,” she told…

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