The Election Commission (EC) is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras to develop a blockchain-based voting system for 900 million eligible voters in India.
In what is truly a groundbreaking initiative that is set to reverberate around the world, the Election Commission of India is absolutely focused on developing a blockchain voting system for 900 million eligible voters in India. According to reports, the new technology will allow electors to vote from far away cities without going to the designated polling stations of their respective constituencies. Its senior deputy election commissioner, Sandeep Saxena, said the concept is 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”.
So, voters will have to reach a designated venue during a pre-decided period of time to be able to use the facility. Therefore, it does not mean voting from home, as an ‘anytime-anywhere-any device’ is still a long way off for now. Saxena explained that the ‘two-way blockchain remote voting’ process would involve voter identification and authorisation that uses a multi-layered IT-enabled system that works on the EC’s e-governance award winning electoral registration officer network. Once the voter identity is established, a blockchain-enabled personalised e-ballot paper (smart contract) will be generated. Saxena went on to say that when the vote is cast (i.e. smart contract is executed), the ballot will be securely encrypted and a blockchain hashtag (#) will be generated. This hashtag notification will then be sent to various stakeholders, in this case, the candidates and political parties.
In 2019, approximately 300 million people voters did not exercise their right to vote, that’s essentially a third of India’s 900 million votes. It’s in this vein, that the chief election commissioner, Sunil Arora, decided it was high time for something to be done. At the last count, India has almost 450 million migrants who have moved from their hometowns in search of jobs, or to study, or because of marriage. This is where a blockchain voting system can greatly help them to exercise their right to vote in upcoming elections. In the US, several state and local governments have already been exploring using blockchain technology for voting. West Virginia began allowing certain voters to submit their ballots using the technology via an app called Voatz. Pierce County in Washington state is also using this app in its blockchain voting pilot. Even Ohio is interested in using blockchain applications for property record management and voting.
According to the Economic Times, there are over 30 countries in the world which have either implemented or are piloting e-voting systems including Australia, Canada, France, India and the US. Even in Malaysia, the EC is considering all measures including the use of blockchain technology to address the possible cyber-security threats following the roll-outs of electronic voting. It’s chairman, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, is committed towards unparalleled levels of security in terms of EVM and e-voting, and the automatic registration of eligible voters will be expected to be implemented by mid-2021. “We have set the target for the middle of next year for this to be up and running, but we will also see if the implementation can be pushed to an earlier date,” he said.
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