Electronic Voting in Australia?

There has been opposition to it but I think there is an answer sitting right in front of us that addresses most concerns.

Since the last Australian Federal Election and the time taken to manually count the votes thanks to the close election the debate of electronic voting has surfaced.

E-voting3-e1364720467346I have been a big fan of electronic voting and the last election has made me more enthusiastic about the idea of electronic voting.

The opposition to e-voting has presented a few valid points that need to be addressed.

Security : By far one of the most popular arguments for not going ahead with e-voting. Those precious votes are at times more valuable than dollars in the bank. They are our say on our very future representation. Our voice is important and our vote is sacred. Tampering, loss or manipulation is not an option.

Anonymity : As important as it is the secret ballot is a key part of our democracy. We hold our voting preferences mostly private. Nobody should know how you vote.

Accessibility : Voting is the right for every Australian regardless of who we are or where we live. Our voices have to be heard from every corner of the globe.

I have been looking towards the technology behind bitcoin known as the blockchain (a short explanation article can be found here) that could provide the answer.

The blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger that keeps track of transactions within a system. Now that system can be used to track bitcoins, vouchers, points or even votes. The beauty of the blockchain is that it is distributed meaning that every member of the blockchain network has a full copy of the ledger and plays a part in verifying each and every transaction in the blockchain.

Used correctly it can provide security by not allowing any single entity the means to manipulate, duplicate or tamper with the flow of votes from the constituents to the parties. Since it could be set up with each party competing for votes could effectively have a part of the system that verifies the blockchain ensuring that everyone adheres to the system and agree on the transfer of votes.

Anonymity is also catered for within the blockchain by the generation of a unique an non-idenitfiable wallet of each voter. Each wallet is unique and cannot be traced back to it’s owner much like bitcoin and its variations. Even though a transaction can be verified, the true identity of each party can remain anonymous if desired.

An example of a blockchain paper wallet.
An example of a blockchain paper wallet.

Accessibility is also not a problem as the bitcoin systems is totally portable and can even be implemented using paper wallets. These can be issued to voters and scanned at polling places with a smartphone, tablet or inexpensive kiosk. E-voting by blockchain can be implemented side-by-side with the existing electoral system while allowing the voting the public to vote from home with a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

This can initially work alongside the existing voting system and take the strain off the AEC by automating a bulk of the vote counting and verification process with a view to a completely electronic voting system in the near future that is fast, secure and trusted. The real challenge will be educating the public about the power behind technologies like the blockchain and how it can be used to develop better systems to be used not only in government but in our day to day lives.

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