The shockwaves of the 2020 presidential election continue to reverberate across the entire American political spectrum, with a majority of Republican voters still believing the White House contest was rigged. This belief stems from many contentious allegations of violations, including votes cast by deceased people, illegal immigrants, or even by the same person, but multiple times.

On the other side of the political divide, complaints about electoral integrity also exist, albeit for different reasons. Democrats accused the GOP of suppressing votes by creating barriers for Americans wanting to register to vote or vote.

Foreign interference is another concern that has repeatedly arisen in the debates leading up to the elections. In October 2020, the FBI issued a newsletter warning of ongoing Russian cyber attacks against government systems, including those that run elections. Even though the Bureau found no indication that election data could have been compromised, the announcement was still of concern.

This speculation and the associated torrent of double-sided politics has resulted in an extreme polarization of a process that is otherwise fundamental to a functioning democracy. If politicians had reallocated even an ounce of their fervor from bitter clashes and inflammatory slurs to generating a solution, they would have discovered that all the tools to build an accessible and secure voting system were already there. at hand.

The solution lies in blockchain and high-tech identity management tools, and this is what that would look like.

Light, camera, action

Voter ID laws have emerged as a key point of contention in discussions around the 2020 election, with a significant number of Americans not holding any government-issued identification documents. Although identification requirements vary from state to state, some 35 states require some form of identity at the polling station. By itself, that does not cover all of the 40 million Americans who did not register to vote when they were eligible to do so; but this is clearly one of the obstacles preventing them from registering legally.

The registration process can be simplified by using biometric data to register voters. All one would need is a phone camera as a vehicle. This simplifies the process and makes it more accessible, given that 97% of US citizens own a standard cell phone and 95% of 18-49 year olds own a smartphone. For those who do not have a phone, public establishments such as post offices could set up tablets to register.

Using this biometric data, we can create a pseudonymous digital identity for the user, but complying with state identification laws requires more safeguards to be put in place to establish a uniform proof process. of residence and citizenship. The current rules include a variety of options: in states like Georgia and Indiana, a voter must show valid photo ID or use a provisional ballot, while in Utah, a voter must show valid photo ID or use a provisional ballot. The identity without a photo works very well, with an affidavit to be signed if no ID is presented.

The solution is to synchronize the recording with more state and federal databases to expand the verification capabilities of the system. A driver’s license scan will certainly work, but for those who don’t have one, a utility bill or other basic identity document that can be linked to a larger paper trail might be an option. The simple reality is that Americans are present on multiple databases right now, and any combination of these could be used as an oracle within our system.

The identity created upon registration with the biometric data would be used as the cryptographic building block for what will effectively function as a private key to sign the polling station vote. To vote, the user would have to go through an on-site biometric check and receive a PIN code, which would become the other building block. The token vote would be put on the blockchain, a decentralized ledger, leading us to the system’s next advantage: its transparency.

Transparent anonymity

Blockchains are by design verifiable and transparent. This means that multiple authorized parties can search or query its records and trace every token – or, in this case, a vote – thus achieving the necessary checks and balances with accountability and oversight. In addition, the system naturally prevents the same individual from voting multiple times, since the biometric data is unique for each person.

While the system is easy to audit, it is also simultaneously built to the highest privacy standards. The vote can be attributed to the digital identity, but the identity itself would not designate a specific person. In other words, one can identify a verified, real and registered voter, but not establish their profile, because the identity does not contain any personal data, whether it is the name, address, gender or affiliations of the voter. ‘elector.

Another protection against election tampering lies in the blockchain’s own design. A blockchain is designed to be immutable, which means that not all data added can be changed retroactively. If the information in a block is changed, the entry becomes invalid. This adds an extra layer of security to the system and brings us to its third key benefit it brings.

If it weren’t for these intrusive children …

The decentralized nature of blockchain makes it a difficult puzzle for any hacker to solve. The dataset is spread across multiple nodes, avoiding a central point of failure. The nodes themselves would be deployed across the United States and distributed across multiple states and municipalities.

This architecture would ensure that the system is decentralized both in its infrastructure and in its software architecture. An opponent can attack individual nodes, or even devices, but such attacks are unlikely to have enough impact to change the outcome of the vote. As for large-scale attacks, the decentralized design makes them nearly impossible to orchestrate.

An example for the world to follow

With the implementation of a new solution based on these principles, leveraging tokenized voting and wallet-style digital identities, one can begin to explore new methods and tools of voting. An experiment with quadratic voting could be on the cards, for example, offering voters a number of voter credits that they can spread across multiple options to present their voting preferences. Something along these lines is already at play in New York City, where state residents can vote for multiple candidates in certain local elections, ranking them by preference.

As voter suppression and voter fraud continue to be a burning issue in the United States, it is time for the country to embrace new ways of overcoming political divisions and constraints, by innovating, exploiting the novel. and high technology. The resulting solutions could not only serve to quell the tide of political partisanship, but could also become the new model for the world, ushering in a paradigm shift towards fairer, more unified, efficient and transparent elections.

About the Author Bob Reid is the current CEO and co-founder of Everest, a financial technology company that leverages blockchain technologies for a more secure and inclusive multi-currency account, digital / biometric identity, payment platform and an eMoney platform. As a licensed and registered financial institution, Everest provides end-to-end financial solutions, facilitating eKYC / AML, digital identity and regulatory compliance associated with the movement of money. He was an advisor to Kai Labs, general manager of licensing at Bittorrent and vice president of strategy and business development at Neulion and DivX.

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