India, the world’s fifth-largest economy, has expressed interest in using blockchain technology to improve its democratic process and will start mock trials soon according to the country’s Chief Election Commissioner.
In a message to commemorate the 11th national voter’s day, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced that testing will be soon conducted for the country’s new remote voting program.
India’s move to tap blockchain technology for voting comes at a time when many people around the world are looking for more transparency in voting systems.
India Celebrating Democracy with Good News for Blockchain
The Indian Election Commission partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country, to develop a solution to allow citizens to vote from remote locations without the need of going to their designated polling station.
Mr. Arora said that “There has been a good progress in this regard and mock trials would begin soon”, which would get the country a step closer to allowing overseas Indian citizens to participate in the next elections.
While the voter turnout in the 2019 Indian elections was the highest ever with a turnout of 67%, the country’s government believes participation can be improved by facilitating the process.
The concept being worked on by the Indian government was describe by former Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena as a, “two-way electronic voting system in a controlled environment on white-listed IP devices on dedicated Internet lines enabled with biometric devices and a web camera”.
Harvesting the Power of Blockchain to Improve Voting
While this new approach will still require voters to visit a designated voting venue, voters would be able to vote from different polling stations without having to worry about being in their hometown or designated station when the elections take place.
Mr. Saxena further elaborated on how the new system would work by saying:
“It does not mean voting from home. After a voter’s identity is established by the system, a blockchain-enabled personalized e-ballot paper will be generated. When the vote is cast, the ballot will be securely encrypted and a blockchain hashtag generated. This hashtag notification will be sent to various stakeholders, in this case, the candidates and political parties.”
This use of blockchain would allow candidates and political parties to review the electoral process, bringing a new level of transparency and trust to the democratic process by allowing an in-deep audit by third parties.
In addition to this, the encrypted votes resulting from this system will also be validated at the pre-counting stage to further ensure their legitimacy and security.
Blockchain Voting Keeps Gaining Traction
The interest in using blockchain technology to improve voting systems is not a novel idea, as countries around the world such as Norway, Australia, Canada, and France have already been experimenting with online and presential voting systems with different degrees of success.
Back on July 1st of 2020, Russian implemented a blockchain-backed voted system during a referendum on constitutional changes in which residents of Moscow were able to use electronic voting to cast their votes.
This test by the Russian government has been of the biggest demonstrations of the increasing interest in using blockchain technology in the democratic process. Moscow’s Department of Information Technologies made use of the Exonum network, the blockchain network developed by Bitfury.
Some states in the United States have also implemented pilots testing the use of blockchain on their own electoral systems, but failing to get attraction from major regulators.
While there is still a long way to go until blockchain technology is massively adopted as the backbone of voting, the experimentation by the Indian government and its counterparts will prove to be valuable in the development of the blockchain ecosystem.