Online elections would make it very convenient for people to participate in a Direct Democracy. However, given that election fraud is more likely to occur with electronic voting, especially with machines made by Diebold and ES&S, there is room for concern that online votes can also be hacked. Both election fraud and voter fraud might be prevented by blockchain method, an audit trail for a database which is managed by a network of computers where no single computer is responsible for storing the database.
Blockchain is decentralized. It is a form of encryption that was invented for the purposes of verifying transactions anonymously and securely. Because the transaction record is not centralized, no one person or group is in control or has access to the transaction record. Blockchain is being used now by most major financial companies because it cannot be hacked or changed. Blockchain may make banks obsolete because it performs the function of the trusted third party by removing the need for a trusted third party. When a vote is cast using a blockchain system, the voter can verify that the vote counted. The state can verify that the voter is registered, but the voter’s identity is protected. No one can tamper with the blockchain vote, but it is relatively easy to hack an electronic voting machine, throw registered voters off the rolls, or even damage or throw away a paper ballot.
Initially, Direct Democracy elections might beheld with a combination of paper ballots at local government offices and post offices and blockchain online ballots to test the reliability of the system and/or to accommodate those who don’t use computers.
See Blockchain Voting in Germany.
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In a Direct Democracy, the citizens must vote on all things, not just elections. But with this number of votes going on at a time, we need a easy, reliable, secure method of casting ballots. Countries like Canada, Norway and Australia have all adopted online voting methods, so maybe we should follow suit? One of the main reasons online voting hasn’t been standardized is pushback from people who say it’s too vulnerable to hacking. Government attempts to set up a online voting system for overseas soldiers in 2004 and 2010 were complete failures, so no wonder people are doubtful. How can we show that online voting is the best option?
A new type of über secure voting system has come up, blockchain voting. By distributing the ballot information across all voter’s systems, there is no one computer that can be hacked and manipulated, only the thousands, sometimes millions, of computers that used the service.
Of course, people will always be suspicious of new technology just because they don’t know how it works, especially older people. Younger users of blockchain voting would probably be more comfortable with it, and so the main demographic of voters (if this was the only voting system you used) would be young people. This is not a fair election. Making technology simple and unintimidating is important to getting this system to work for older people.
Another way to make the election fairer is to have the option to vote at your local post office. People are used to this kind of voting, so voter turnout would be higher, evening the playing field for all sides of an issue. Also, those who don’t have access to a computer can always go to their postal service and vote there instead.
Switching to online voting in the near future will give more people easy access to vote anywhere from their device. Although past systems have failed to stay secure, new blockchain voting methods prove successful. Expansion of online voting from the local to federal level would be the best way to organize elections in a Direct Democracy.