As widely reported, the Ministry of Science and ICT announced last week that it plans to develop a blockchain-based online voting system.
“The latest system to be developed will apply blockchain in voter authentication and result saving, which will increase transparency and security”, the government said.
“Voting will be conducted via mobile and personal computers. Data will be saved on a distributed network and all voters will be able to view voting results as they progress.”
Ally Chung noted here in her post on the announcement that though Korea already has a conventional online voting system, few people seem to trust it, judging from the fact that 90% of Koreans still vote in person.
Korea has some experience in blockchain-based voting. In March, the province of Gyeonggi-do used blockchain technology in a local vote on community projects, a successful implementation CCN called “among the earliest by a government anywhere in the world.”
Interest in using blockchain technology in elections is growing, especially in the wake of the midterm elections in the United States.
The Blockchain Research Institute’s Alex Tapscott argued that online voting using blockchain technology could boost voter participation and restore confidence in democracy. You can also read Tapscott’s thoughts on blockchain voting in an interview here at The Iconist.
Some even dream of putting blockchain to work in completely reimagining elections and governance.
On the other hand, you have Ars Technica’s Timothy B. Lee, who argued that blockchain-based voting would destroy public trust in voting and constitute a disaster for democracy. Security experts were critical of the U.S. state of West Virginia’s experiment with blockchain-based voting in the 2018 midterms. One cryptographer quoted in Scientific American gave this bleak assessment:
“Still, neither cryptographers nor election experts are impressed with blockchains’ potential to improve election integrity. Noted cryptographer Ron Rivest of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sums up the bleak consensus among academics: ‘I don’t know of any who think it’s a good idea, and within one or two years I expect all these companies to die.’”
Time will tell, I suppose.
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