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Technology evolves, taking society along with it. We communicate, buy and bank online; why not vote online in elections?

Some countries have been raising this question. Switzerland, for example, aims at having two-thirds of its cantons use this method of voting by the end of 2019. With this in mind, testing is under way in the city of Zug, where citizens have been able to use an online form to vote on everyday issues. In the United States, West Virginia authorities have decided that members of the military posted overseas will be able to vote in the next election using a mobile app. Blockchain technology is being used for both these cases. This means that votes will be recorded in blocks that will be linked to a chain of votes reviewed by the so-called “nodes.”

The main arguments supporting electronic elections is the consideration of blockchain as an optimal technology to safeguard voting guarantees (vote integrity and unchangeability) and the anticipation that implementation would cause absenteeism to drop because of convenience, e.g., not having to go to a polling station.

However, the initiative has also elicited criticism by the cybersecurity sector.  There are experts who do not consider blockchain sufficiently secure to be implemented for such an important purpose. Specifically, they think that devices would be easier to hack, that it would not be possible to guarantee that votes are properly recorded, and that, due to the lack an analog record, undetectable changes could occur over the course of voting.  This was the view expressed by Matt Blaze, professor of information science at the University of Pennsylvania when he went before the United States Congress on November 29. He maintained that (i) vote integrity would certainly depend on the integrity of the information systems used for voting, and (ii) current technologies (including the use of blockchain systems) are unable to guarantee that there could be no incidents or attacks capable of jeopardizing the mentioned conditions of integrity.

Opinion is divided, so we will have to wait until November to see the polling results in the mentioned US state and whether more states decide to implement this method of voting if the experience is successful.

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