European Parliament Paper Examines Blockchain for Voting

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A Blockchain paper (available in Blockchain News Library) written by Analyst Philip Boucher from the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) called “What if Blockchain technology revolutionised voting? ” takes a hard look to ask is Blockchain the revolution in security and transparency that is needed to enable e-voting and, if so, what are the implications for the future of democracy?

Many experts in the past have agreed that e-voting would require revolutionary developments in security systems but today the debate has shifted – and many wonder whether Blockchain technology will represent a transformative or merely incremental development.

Boucher writes:

The Blockchain protocol is a means of logging and verifying records that is transparent and distributed among users. Usually, votes are recorded, managed, counted and checked by a central authority.

Blockchain-enabled e-voting (BEV) would empower voters to do these tasks themselves, by allowing them to hold a copy of the voting record. The historic record could then not be changed because other voters would see that the record differs from theirs.

Illegitimate votes could not be added, because other voters would be able to scrutinise whether votes were compatible with the rules (perhaps because they have already been counted, or are not associated with a valid voter record). BEV would shift power and trust away from central actors, such as electoral authorities, and foster the development of a tech-enabled community consensus.

One way of developing BEV systems for e-voting is to create a new, bespoke system, designed to reflect the specific characteristics of the election and electorate. A second approach that may be cheaper and easier is to ‘piggyback’, running the election on a more established Blockchain, such as that used by the virtual currency, bitcoin.

Given that the security of a Blockchain ledger relies upon the breadth of its user base, this piggyback approach may also be more secure for elections with a small number of voters.

Taking the concept a step further, Blockchain voting could be combined with smart contracts, to automatically take action under certain agreed conditions.

BEV would not only digitise the traditional voting process, but also proposes an alternative framework with a completely different set of values and political basis that is bottom up rather than top down.

While participation in traditional elections reinforces the authority of the state, participation in BEV asserts the primacy of the people. In this light, it is not surprising that links are drawn between BEV and transitions towards a more direct, decentralised and bottom-up democracy. As such, the extent to which blockchain technology will flourish in the area of evoting may depend upon the extent to which it can reflect the values and structure of society, politics and democracy.

About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), partner at ICO services collective CryptoAsset Design Group ($500m+ and 50+ ICOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur.

He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups
and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and
startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat

Ad honorem - Honorary Ph.d - Chair Professor of Blockchain at
China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead
Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business
Automation 4.0 programme. Chevalier (Knight) - Ordre des Arts et des
Technologies at Crypto Chain University and on advisory board of Advisory Board Member of International Decentralized Association Of Cryptocurrency And Blockchain (IDABC) as well as Advisory Board Member at U.S. Blockchain Association.

Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+
innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME
Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for
the UK government's Innovate UK division. Kastelein has spoken
(keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich

His network is global and extensive. He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe

He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French.

A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart,
Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to
TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to
marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian
expatriate living around the world

In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a
series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas'
travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and
yachting publications. 

He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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