Experts have warned that that blockchain technology can fix the inherent setbacks associated with the U.S. midterm elections. Basically, some of the obstacles that hampered the elections were malfunctioning machines and long queues. All this added to the frustrations of voters.
Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor at the Computer Science Department at Princeton University, was vocal in his criticism. Narayanan, who approved the idea of using blockchain to track fruits at retail giant Walmart, fervently criticized its use for voting. Expressing his view on the subject, Narayanan tweeted that anyone messing with critical infrastructure has “crossed a line.”
What is blockchain technology anyway?
Blockchain technology is an evolving technology that relies on nodes (computers) to build a shared, decentralized and secure digital ledger (called a block). While Bitcoin was the first to use this technology, the blockchain has nonetheless spread on a global scale.
In truth, many companies are employing it to improve their business processes. By providing a secure, decentralized and immutable ledger, blockchain technology has become indispensable in ecosystems where data integrity is critical. Therefore, it is considered as a possible solution to the challenges presented by elections.
The argument continues
Given that blockchain technology is disrupting existing systems, an expert suggested the use of the blockchain to transform U.S. elections and the voting process. However, this has met fierce criticism. Apart from the varsity don, other critics are raising their voices to register their dismay over the idea of using blockchain to improve voting.
In his November 5th tweets, Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at International Computer Science Institute raked the idea over the coals. Weaver argued that anyone who suggests using blockchain for online voting knows next to nothing about computer security and elections.
Blockchain-enabled elections in the United States
In May, West Virginia introduced a new blockchain-based process that would enable state residents living abroad to vote in absentia. Basically, the state employed Voatz, a mobile election platform. It leverages the capabilities of the blockchain and other innovative technologies to make it feasible for use in elections. The Voatz app allowed almost 140 West Virginians to vote in the primary elections, as well as the midterms.
Last Monday, the New York Times published an article which supported the notion of how the U.S. can use the technology to enhance its elections. A good number of readers expressed excitement about the idea after reading the piece. In the articel, Alex Tapscott, the Cofounder of the Blockchain Research Institute, detailed the benefits of this innovative technology. In addition, Tapscott specifically highlighted how it can transform elections in the U.S. Surprisingly, blockchain experts criticized the opinion post, with many of them tagging the article as “ridiculous.”
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