Distrust is at an all time high in the United States, especially after the recent election, and where the United States goes, the world often follows. In the November presidential election, President Trump called the elections “rigged” before they began and refused to back down when the results were unfavorable to him. As a result of these complaints, more than half of Republican voters believed there had been widespread electoral fraud. The effect is less trust in American institutions and systems of governance.

Unfortunately, the loss of confidence in the elections is also happening internationally, especially in Belarus. It was a scandal where the sixth consecutive election of President Alexander Lukashenko was rejected by the European Union on the basis of a criminal act. But what can be done to fight against generalization loss of confidence in democracy?

Attacks on the electoral process attack functions where human error or bias can be found or implied, such as the counting process. For example, once a vote is cast, there are strict rules for transporting, storing, and counting the vote in a way that makes the process efficient, verifiable, and transparent while protecting voter privacy. The strict rules and controls in place for processing votes typically mean that voter fraud and human error are isolated in a small number of cases, even in democracies as large as the United States.

See the related article: US Postal Service Explores Blockchain-Assisted Postal Voting System

While these processes have worked for centuries, they face a new generation of challenges in the modern computing environment. There is a presumption of bad faith on the part of those participating in an election, which includes international actors who might benefit from influencing the results. This means that even minute error rates in manual processes can be magnified to undermine confidence in the election as a whole and create conflict, as evidenced by the misinformation of 2020 “super spreaders. “

Debug democracy

Organizing fair elections in an information ecosystem where every knowledge gap can be exploited and where every unfounded claim can be promoted to millions of people instantly, is a tall order. For example, one of the most viewed “news” in 2016 was about the Pope endorsing Trump, but it was entirely made, and the Russians massively amplified it on social networks. More, This article reflects on the extent of Russian disinformation in the public sphere during the 2016 elections.

Confidence has bottomed out since then, and while misinformation was not as much of a problem in the 2020 election, the pandemic has certainly underscored the importance of transparency in government action. Restoring confidence in government begins with the voting process. Democracy is shifting from a philosophical concept to a technical one, as technical frameworks for protecting the vote potentially become more important than constitutional frameworks.

Blockchain technology can perform mathematical functions and verification autonomously, making it ideal for use in elections. The problem with this technology has always been the need to have a safe and verifiable voting process while protecting the secret ballot. Early blockchain voting efforts struggled to verify the legitimacy of ballots while protecting the privacy rights of every voter. Election authorities had to store the votes cast in a central repository, which meant that the secrecy of voters’ ballots and often the personal information that accompanied them was only as secure as the database that stored it.

This represented a considerable obstacle to the widespread adoption of blockchain voting; many cited this as a reason why blockchain-based voting couldn’t work, including some within the tech community and academia. Fortunately, a technological solution to this problem is now available through the use of zero-knowledge proof or zk-SNARK. This proof allows two parties to mathematically verify that they have a particular set of information, without revealing the information itself.

Zero-knowledge evidence originated in the 1980s, with ZCash presenting itself as the first real use case. Development has accelerated a lot since then. For example, this allows electoral authorities to verify that each voter is registered and has not already voted, without knowing the content of their vote. It also ensures that all votes will be counted and verified, while protecting the privacy of every voter.

Benefits of Democracy 2.0

There are exciting implications for the widespread use of blockchain voting in today’s information ecosystem. The main advantage is to eliminate the prospect of human error from the procedure. While this has never been on a scale that could affect the results of important elections in the past, it was enough to create the fear, uncertainty and doubt that can undermine the integrity of an election. In the United States, we saw how attacking the integrity of the elections was a protracted process where groups and individuals sowed doubt in the build-up, and attacks on the results were concentrated throughout the counting process. in all areas where the votes were tight.

See the related article: When Democracy Is Not Enough: How Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Latin America

In a blockchain-based democracy, candidates would be invested in the system from the start and the tally would be instantaneous. Knowledge gaps would be eliminated, as every vote would be verified and considered, while confidentiality would be protected through the use of zk-SNARK. Remote voting would be possible for people with mobility problems or sheltering in place for health reasons, as well as military personnel and other voters posted abroad.

Democracy faces new challenges in today’s digital world, but it also faces a new opportunity in blockchain voting. Despite the directive issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerians continue to use their crypto on peer-to-peer exchanges, creating a high priority for decentralized voting systems to gain a foothold in the country.

In Catalonia, the autonomous region of northeastern Spain, elections have been held temporarily reprogrammed due to concerns over the ongoing pandemic. The need to postpone elections entirely due to Covid-19 and the inability to facilitate secure elections highlight the ineffectiveness of current online voting methods – they are not secure and cannot protect data privacy . Decentralized voting technology that is safe, secure and transparent is here now and should be deployed as a solution.

In contemporary elections, every decision is scrutinized through a poll or other considerations as a political ploy, even if a life-threatening pandemic persists. But using blockchain voting would eliminate these logistical considerations, along with concerns about voter suppression and voter fraud. Perhaps this is how confidence in government is restored when it is most needed.

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