Research Summary: Design and Implementation of Blockchain-based E-Voting

Hi Tolu…

Like I shared with @Austin_jul in the writer’s cohort, apart from the technical limitations, the other blockages are physical.

For instance, African governments may not want to use the system for one reason or another. If they decide against the protocol, it won’t be tested and adopted. Additionally, people would be wary of the protocol as it would require sharing their information and registering - something they are not used to in this part of the world.

Of course, once the first hurdle is overcome - i.e., the government accepts the voting protocol - this blockage can be eliminated. This is because they can coerce everyone who meets the criterion to participate or face sanctions.

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Hi @Tolulope, beautiful work as always.

This is a practical topic. First, the paper highlighted the problem in traditional voting which E-voting tried to solve before it landed into another trouble. Hahahahaha.

The trouble led Blockchain and Cryptography into trying to solve E-voting challenges using Proof of Authority (PoA ) amongst other tactics.

Let’s go deeper. From your definition of PoA above, some people have to be given power to validate transactions. We can call them the custodians of the Secure Public Bulletin Board (SPBB).

My questions now are:

  1. Who are these people and what incentivizes them to act honestly?

  2. What are the criteria for selecting them?

  3. What makes them different from the central authorities in the non-blockchain E- voting type, since they look like central authority too?

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Nice work @Tolulope

This stood out for me. I remember in my argument with a friend last week on E-voting and Blockchain that this was the premise of my argument!

It was exciting reading your paper and having in mind that it offers a solution to this problem.

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First off, I’d like to address the research question by saying that one of the most challenging aspects of computer-assisted voting is balancing the seemingly contradictory requirements of privacy and verifiability. On the one hand, privacy requires that a vote cannot be traced back to a voter from the result, whereas verifiability requires that a voter can trace the effect of her vote on the result. This can be addressed by employing a variety of privacy-enhancing cryptographic primitives that also provide verifiability. As more and more refined voting systems were proposed, understanding of first privacy and then verifiability in voting grew, and notions of privacy and verifiability in voting became increasingly refined. This has resulted in a number of verifiable systems that use cryptographic primitives to ensure different types of privacy.

However, the corresponding privacy and verifiability claims are rarely independently verified. Claims have been invalidated frequently enough when investigated to warrant a cautious approach to them. A plethora of concepts, primitives, and proposed solutions claiming to achieve both privacy and verifiability form an intriguing but complex landscape.

Benefits

Electronic voting technology is becoming more popular in our modern society. It has the potential to reduce organizational costs while increasing voter turnout. It eliminates the need to print ballots or open polling stations because voters can vote from anywhere with an Internet connection. Also in the long term, expenses are expected to decrease. Results can be reported and published faster

Despite these advantages, online voting solutions are viewed with caution because they introduce new risks. A single flaw can result in large-scale vote manipulation.

When used in elections, electronic voting systems must be legitimate, accurate, safe, and convenient.

Nonetheless, adoption may be hampered by potential issues with electronic voting systems. Blockchain technology was developed to address these issues and provides decentralized nodes for electronic voting. It is used to create electronic voting systems primarily due to the benefits of end-to-end verification. With distributed, non-repudiation, and security protection features, this technology is an excellent replacement for traditional electronic voting solutions.

The use of technology has become important at this point in helping to meet human needs. Due to the increasing use of technology, new challenges are brought in the process of democracy as most people today don’t trust their governments, making elections very important in a modern democracy. Elections have great importance in determining who will rule a nation or an organization, or it can be said as it is an event that decides the fate of any nation.

In a modern democracy, elections are very important, but large sections of society around the world do not trust their election system which is a major concern for democracy.

Even the world’s largest democracies like India, United States, still suffer from a flawed electoral system. Vote rigging, hacking of EVM (Electronic voting machine), election manipulation, and polling booth capturing are the major issues in the current voting system

The blockchain is said an emerging, decentralized, and distributed technology that promises to enhance different aspects of many industries. Expanding e-voting into blockchain technology could be the solution to eliminate the present concerns in the e-voting system

There is no doubt that the ever-changing concept of the blockchain, which is the backbone of the famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin has triggered the start of a new era in the Internet and the online services. While most people focus only on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; there are in fact, many operations, both administrative and fintech that can only be done online/offline can now safely be moved to the Internet as online services because of immutability of blockchain. What makes blockchain a powerful tool is its smarts contracts and many features which overcomes traditional systems.

Smart contracts are meaningful pieces of codes, to be integrated in the blockchain and executed as scheduled in every step of blockchain updates. E-voting, is another trending, yet critical, topic related to the online services. The blockchain with the smart contracts, emerges as a good candidate to use in developments of safer, cheaper, more secure, more transparent, and easier-to-use e-voting systems. Due to its consistency, widespread use, and provision of smart contracts logic, Ethereum and its network is one of the most suitable ones. An e-voting system must be secure, as it should not allow duplicated votes and be fully transparent, while protecting the privacy of the attendees.

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About summary

  • Developed and developing countries have adopted electronic voting (E-voting) to replace the traditional ballot box or postal method of voting. However, the requirement to be met to achieve voters’ privacy and the process verifiability is high.
  • Research has been conducted into applying cryptographic techniques to achieve privacy and verifiability, but the solutions are usually hard to implement.

Top discussions .

this is a comment from @samuel94, after commending @tolulope on her summary, he asked two questions concerning the laws in his country, he stated :

  • " It came at a time when my country, Nigeria, just passed an electoral law wherein section 84 approved electronic transmission and registration of voters. While the law doesn’t foresee e-voting, I believe it will only take time before that happens and who knows, you might be called as one of the experts to advise the federal government on this.

  • Because the election is a very serious and delicate issue capable of dislodging the unity of a country, especially a multinational country, does this research or any other research is known to you, provide a mechanism to prevent identity providers from accessing the e-voting system when the identity provider * goes rogue as pointed out in the research?

  • Secondly, although secondary to the context and content of the research, to what extent does the study consider the user-friendly design of the system to not widen the already existing digital divides in some countries, especially African Countries with a long history of election and voter manipulation?

@tolulope responded with; Elections are crucial to maintaining democracy and a country’s unity, as you have stated. One of the limitations of this prototype is that if the identity provider goes rogue or conspires with the access provider, they could link the casted votes to the voters. However, the researchers suggest that a scheme of blinded tokens in e-identity provisioning could solve this problem. Also, David Chaum’s VoteXX project could potentially provide other solutions.

to find similar posts use any of the tags:
blockchain, e-voting, game theory

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Thank you very much for this wonderful summary @Tolulope

This would be helpful to most African and underdeveloped country.

Blockchain technology fixed shortcomings in today’s method in elections made the polling mechanism clear and accessible, stopped illegal voting, strengthened the data protection, and checked the outcome of the polling. The implementation of the electronic voting method in blockchain is very significant. However, electronic voting carries significant risks such as if an electronic voting system is compromised, all cast votes can probably be manipulated and misused. Electronic voting has thus not yet been adopted on a national scale, considering all its possible advantages. Today, there is a viable solution to overcome the risks and electronic voting, which is blockchain technology. In Figure 4, one can see the main difference between both of the systems. In traditional voting systems, we have a central authority to cast a vote. If someone wants to modify or change the record, they can do it quickly; no one knows how to verify that record. One does not have the central authority; the data are stored in multiple nodes. It is not possible to hack all nodes and change the data. Thus, in this way, one cannot destroy the votes and efficiently verify the votes by tally with other nodes.

Figure 4

Traditional vs. blockchain voting system.

If the technology is used correctly, the blockchain is a digital, decentralized, encrypted, transparent ledger that can withstand manipulation and fraud. Because of the distributed structure of the blockchain, a Bitcoin electronic voting system reduces the risks involved with electronic voting and allows for a tamper-proof for the voting system. A blockchain-based electronic voting system requires a wholly distributed voting infrastructure. Electronic voting based on blockchain will only work where the online voting system is fully controlled by no single body, not even the government [36]. To sum-up, elections can only be free and fair when there is a broad belief in the legitimacy of the power held by those in positions of authority. The literature review for this field of study and other related experiments may be seen as a good path for making voting more efficient in terms of administration and participation. However, the idea of using blockchain offered a new model for electronic voting.

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Thank you for your comment @Mansion. I agree that a Blockchain-based E-voting system would be helpful to most countries. However, considering the current state of tech and literacy in most African countries. Do you think a blockchain-based e-voting system would be useful and effective at this time?

Also, I have a different opinion about this based on some of my recent readings, While blockchain-based e-voting system is excellent and solves quite a number of the problems of e-voting systems, it doesn’t solve all of its problems and I believe it creates new sets of problems as well. For instance, besides common security issues in e-voting systems, blockchain introduces new security concerns such as complexity in debugging and deploying new software due to its decentralized nature. Other issues include consistency verification, transaction registration issues, performance
issues, and centralization of mining power. Therefore, I do not agree with the statement that

It is a developing research area that requires more research and has even greater prospects of success.

Here are some papers that I have been reading relating to this topic recently, perhaps you may find them interesting as well:
On Trade-offs of Applying Block Chains for Electronic Voting Bulletin Boards
Going from bad to worse: from Internet voting to blockchain voting

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Would these be good candidates for the Notable Works in Governance and Coordination list?

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Yes, they are really good papers on E-voting and Blockchain based e-voting.

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Thank you @Tolulope ,A very interesting Research topic we have here.
Transparency is important during election for determination of a country’s fate. Over the years Democratic African nations are being manipulated during Election while deceiving people with the word “Democracy”. Taking Nigeria as a case study, Over the years the good people of Nigeria has complained bitterly because of the manipulation and non-transparency that is involved in all political election been carried out all round the country, Snatching of Ballot Box during or after election, allowing under age citizens to vote and all the rest of them, these specifically has brought trust issues and disbelieve amongst the citizens. Am of the Opinion that with the introduction of E-voting programmed under Blockchains this manipulations could be reduced causing transparency in Elections. This can start by having a bio data of every eligible citizen who must have a voting Registration Number and Voting pin. it will make it easy for people to cast their vote in their comfort zones with their Mobile phones and personal computer, and after casting of vote a backup reference receipt should be made available for every eligible voter. Most European countries has been on E-voting for ages and it’s something African nations should emulate for Election Transparency.