As civil society and government continue to digitize their services, many observers have wondered when political parties will get their 21st century facelift. Although cyber security fears remain prevalent, secure and transparent online voting may soon become a reality. In 2014, Denmark’s Liberal Alliance party announced that it planned to use blockchain technology for secure electronic voting (or e-voting) at its annual meeting. While the party released limited information regarding the intra-party election or its results, this exploration of blockchain technology could lay the foundation for secure e-voting in the future.
The blockchain protocol functions similarly to a public database. Blocks, like database cells, store data — which, in an e-voting system, are votes — and then are encrypted. Meanwhile, if a blockchain is operating within a network, each system will obey the same encryption process, allowing the systems to proactively ensure the accuracy of each block. When blocks are created, they include a hash: a unique number that corresponds specifically to that block. Should a block be tampered with in any way, the hash would change, ensuring the integrity of votes.
Multiple small projects seek to create similar mechanisms and, eventually, an effective, scalable platform for future blockchain e-voting systems. Although the use of blockchain technology for voting is still in its infancy, there is significant potential for secure and transparent e-voting in the future. Because these new voting technologies change the way many elements of the electoral process are conducted, internationally recognized election standards must also adapt in order to safeguard electoral integrity and encourage the public’s trust in their use.