2019 Elections: Vote Blockchain
Imagine being able to vote from your living room or anywhere else on the planet beyond your sofa. Imagine not having to attend the call as a member of an electoral table. In Bit2me, we imagine this and much more, why? Well, because we have been working with Blockchain technology like Bitcoin for some time and we know that it can still bring a lot of innovation.
We have prepared this article to project the advantages that the use of blockchain would have in an electoral voting system. For this, we have superficially analyzed the data offered by the Official State Gazette and some media. After this we have tried to answer the question: What could blockchain technology improve at some points in an electoral process?
Elections have four fundamental stages: call, campaign, vote and take power. It is during the campaign and the vote where some choices with blockchain technology They could present a series of advantages compared to the current system.
Before continuing, we want to clarify that when we refer to blockchain technology, We are talking about the coordinated application of various technologies to create distributed data networks where information can be public and without alteration capacity. We mainly refer to digital data transmission technologies, encryption using strong cryptographic systems and consensus protocols for the validation of information.
Advantages of a Blockchain voting method
Using a blockchain to carry out an election or voting process involves a series of technical improvements. These have an impact on the system being:
- More transparent: Everyone can verify the results without depending on a third party.
- Minimize that errors human: The counting process requires several people to avoid committing them. With blockchain the process would be much more efficient.
- Saving en coste: If something is clear it is that the mobilization of the election days and all the material used require a very high expense, something that could be avoided with blockchain technology.
- Verification of vote: Thanks to the transparency of blockchain technology, verifying that your vote has been correctly computed would be tremendously easy. And not only that, but it would also be very quick to check.
- Avoid counterfeits: Blockchain technology has come a long way in the field of digital signature for correct identity authentication. Forging a signature is much more difficult than doing it under the current system.
- Increase process security: All the above advantages have repercussions in raising the safety of this process well above current standards.
The elections of April 28 will cost about 138 million euros. These expenses are intended to pay:
- vote by mail
- sending electoral propaganda
- state forces that ensure security during election day
- the company reporting the count.
To this expense must be added the public subsidy to the political parties for the development of their activities and the material used for the development of the electoral day. Almost 200 million euros that are not used more productively.
Once the elections are over, the BOE establishes that each formation with parliamentary representation will receive:
- 21.167,64€ for every seat obtained in the Congress of Deputies or in the Senate.
- Grant 0,81 euros for each of the votes obtained for each candidacy for Congress, one of whose members, at least, would have obtained the seat of Deputy.
- Grant 0,32 euros for each of the votes obtained by each candidate who had obtained Senatorial seat.
And also also, the "The State will subsidize to the parties, federations, coalitions or groups, the electoral expenses originated by the direct and personal sending to the voters of electoral envelopes and ballots or of electoral propaganda and advertising":
- Will be paid 0,21 euros per voter in each of the constituencies in which it has presented a list to the Congress of Deputies and the Senate, provided that the reference candidate had obtained the number of Deputies or Senators or votes necessary to constitute a Parliamentary Group in one or another Chamber.
Although from the upper echelons they insist that climate change is a political decision, it is not. Climate change is not voted, nor by voting for one or the other will it disappear during a legislature. Today, voting for representatives who do not hesitate to impact the planet to spam your mailbox does not seem the most responsible solution. And is that survival does not understand ideologies.
Suppose the total number of voters is 40 million. In a traditionally bipartisan state, it would mean having at least 80 million ballots and 40 million envelopes to carry out the lower house voting process. As expected, there are other parties that aspire to take power from parliament to disseminate their ideas in the form of laws. Let's say there are 4, this involves printing 160 million ballots, but we know that there are actually more than four.
To this must be added, the ballots of the upper house or senate. One per person 40 million more, at least. And of course, to keep the "secret ballot", 40 million more envelopes for it.
The political formations are aware that at the polling stations there is plenty of material to wallpaper the sandwiches of the entire galaxy. Despite this, they carry out an activity that they call "mailbox ", but we prefer to call it SPAM. With this, they send you one more copy of the already completed Senate ballot and one more of the courts.
Then an additional 80 million ballots per party would have to be added to the homes of voters. But in the example we have counted four political formations, so there would be 320 million more.
We must thank the formations that during this process give priority to the health of the planet. For example, those who remember to pack their SPAM in "good plastic", so that we know who they are who invite in the poisoning of the sea.
Voting area: measure the length of paper
The measurements of a ballot from the lower chamber are approximately 10,4 x 22,2 centimeters. The surface covered by this ballot is 230,88 cm². On the other hand, the ballots in the upper chamber are larger in size. These reach the DIN A4 format, that is, 21 x 29,7 cm and their surface is 623,7 cm².
Knowing the surface that each ballot occupies, we can get an idea of how much each party would cover for each million inhabitants if it is true that there are:
- 1 million ballots from the lower house at the polling stations
- 1 million lower house ballots sent by spam mail
- 1 million upper house ballots sent by spam mail
- 1 million ballots from the upper house at the polling station, divided by the number of political formations.
The surface equalized by the ballots of the lower chamber would result from multiplying 2 million by 230,88 cm². What would result in 461,76 million cm², which changed to m² would be about 46176 sqm. To give you an idea, the FC playing field. Barcelona measures 7140 m², almost seven times less.
The surface equalized by the ballots of the upper house would be variable, but if there were only one political formation, it would have to be multiplied by 2 million by 623,7 cm². This would result in 1247,4 million cm², which would be converted to m2 124740 sqm. Wow! about 17 soccer fields.
Therefore, a political formation and a million voters, would give to paper 24 soccer fields. If there are 40 million voters, we would talk about 960 soccer fields for political formation. Five formations would cover the entire area of Madrid's Barajas Adolfo Suárez airport.
Anonymity / Anonymous vote
Currently, voting systems cannot guarantee complete anonymity of the vote. There are known vulnerabilities in systems to accomplish this. The governments know this but have preferred to take only measures to mitigate this, or have kept silent to use them in their favor.
In any case, another point in favor of blockchain voting is the ability to respect the principle of secret voting. With blockchain technology, we can do without the electoral notebooks and attack the vulnerabilities that threaten this principle.
Another point in favor of the blockchain in this sense, is that our vote can be cast without having to relate our data. There is no need to give names, DNI, or any personal information. Authentication is protected by strong cryptography and a public key infrastructure. All at the same time that our data is protected and guaranteed by strong cryptography and an immutable data chain.
This anonymity scheme seeks to avoid situations of vote buying and other situations of coercion. However, this is the biggest challenge behind voting technology using blockchain. Well, its correct operation depends on separating and anonymizing the voting data from the authentication system. A challenge to overcome and in which it works hard, as in the case of sovereign authentication systems.
Savings and decentralization
The current electoral systems are based on proprietary technologies that have an enormous cost both in licenses and in maintenance of the systems and updates. At this point we ask ourselves why a public act such as a vote is managed by private transnational companies? Why not create an open, public and auditable hardware and software structure for everyone?
Although it may seem otherwise, an open system not only leads to a huge improvement in electoral systems, their confidence and security. But it allows a huge saving of public money and an improvement in the design of these systems.
The reliability of the electoral process, in its voting stage, has incurred accusations of manipulation on numerous occasions. This has happened in countries with an emerging democracy, and in countries like United States. It is at that moment that a possible Byzantine fault in the system. The voter is not able to distinguish whether there has been an error or not, so a consensus cannot be reached on this and doubts are raised about the voting system. Only sympathy for one or another political force can already lead to distortion in the detection of these failures.
With a opinion post de Ars Technica, ensures that blockchain-based elections would end in disaster for the democratic system. The post elaborates a criticism on another article of the New York Times qualified It's Time for Online Voting. Timothy B. Lee suggests that “A voting system with blockchain would endanger the integrity of the electoral system and the faith of the electorate in the results of the vote". The author maintains that this system would not improve the interference of the formations in the process under allegations of manipulation either. While this may be true, it is putting the focus away from solvable problems with technology. At the end of the day, a vote is not a question of faith, it is a question of trust and transparency.
Otherwise, if there is something that puts a democracy at risk, it is this type of insinuation. Either for having incurred them and prefer not to put a solution or for inducing fear with the intention of blocking any improvement. Experimentation is the key to banishing phobias to progress.
Elections and Blockchain: a long way to go
The implementation of a mechanism such as the blockchain is not done in a moment if there is no infrastructure in place. This circumstance has greater weight when this system must replace an active public use mechanism. The main barriers to entry would therefore be the lack of initial infrastructure and citizen education for its proper use.
The implementation mechanisms of a system like this must operate progressively so as not to fall into failure. Also, keep in mind that an innovative system can only tend to improve parts of a problem. And therefore it is not a guarantee of being the definitive solution to the whole assumption. Nobody should expect miracles, but if in the end what is already improved in any way, it is worth trying.
It would be unfair and irresponsible to say that a blockchain-based election format would not carry any risk. The system would continue to have vulnerabilities. Y nor could it guarantee the honesty and efficiency of the chosen candidates. Experience is necessary to be able to observe the weak points of a structure based on innovation. Due to this, the benefit would not be observable in the short term. Although over the years, who knows? What if instead of voting for candidates, you could periodically vote on proposals with smart contracts? Imagine for a moment that the destiny of a country is decided every day by its inhabitants, as in the BIP
It is clear that nothing is perfect. But a democracy managed with blockchain could improve the decision-making capacity on what is most important to the population.
The city of Zug in Switzerland
It's not all about using your imagination. There are companies that have been exploring this terrain for a while. In addition, there are cities that have already tried this experience. Zug It is a small alpine town in Switzerland. It is famous for hosting the highest concentration of development businesses over Ethereum. In July 2018, a first experiment was done in a municipal vote of this locality. It should be said that Switzerland It is a country quite open to the use of a public referendum, that is, to subject the taking of some decisions to citizen scrutiny.
Perhaps this is why the experiment performed at Zug was a complete success. And is that the political scene should never be afraid to put to the vote anything that citizens request. In the end As constitutions often enact, power emanates from the people.