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.

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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), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency
($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company
Blockchain Partners
(Oracle Partner) and ICO event organiser
at leading industry event CryptoFinancing (Europe's first ICO event now
branded Tokenomicon)
– 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.  Irish Tech News put him in the top
10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is 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 an 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 (2x), 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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