Government — From citizen surveys to public opinion polls, governments can use a blockchain voting system as an alternative or companion to traditional voting methods.
Education — Educational organizations can leverage blockchain technology in a voting system when conducting and processing regular student surveys, faculty evaluations, or alumni surveys.
Enterprises — Businesses can use a blockchain-based e-voting system to conduct product and market research surveys, choose board members, and hold shareholder votes.
Nonprofits — For nonprofit organizations, common use cases for solutions for digital voting with the use of blockchain technology include donor surveys and community needs assessments.
Aside from the listed use cases, organizations can use blockchain-based platforms for e-voting to gather feedback from their employees and stakeholders or conduct customer satisfaction surveys.
𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒛𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒉𝒐𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒏 𝒆-𝒗𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒐𝒍𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒍𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒆𝒄𝒉𝒏𝒐𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒚?
We can outline four specific benefits of using blockchain for voting when building dedicated online solutions:
Decentralization — Decentralized blockchains offer equality to all network participants, eliminating the risk of a certain centralized body overpowering all other users and forging vote results to their advantage. This ensures that the voting process is fair and unbiased.
Immutable and Tamper-Proof Data — Any change made to data stored on the blockchain is recorded automatically, making it impossible to stealthily manipulate or alter vote results.
Auditable Records — Being stored on the blockchain, voting results can be audited and verified by multiple parties.
Smart Contracts — Implementing Smart Contracts
as part of an e-voting solution can help organizations automate critical processes, such as counting and verifying votes. With automated, transaction-like voting, organizations can also eliminate the risk of human error when counting votes.
However, incorporating the blockchain into an e-voting solution can be challenging for organizations and their development teams. In the next section, we cover the key technology-related limitations and pitfalls your developers may encounter when working on a blockchain voting system project.
Challenges and limitations of blockchain-based voting platforms
Despite the promising potential of enhancing e-voting solutions with the blockchain, there are certain challenges your development team should account for before starting this journey.
We can split these challenges into two categories:
Let’s first take a closer look at non-technical challenges.
Legal Limitations — If your goal is to build a solution for government elections, both online voting and the use of blockchains must be allowed in your region. If you build a solution for conducting polls and surveys of employees, stakeholders, and customers, you need to pay extra attention to relevant data privacy laws.
Stakeholder Adoption — Alongside gathering a strong expert team, you’ll need to convince other stakeholders that the benefits of incorporating a blockchain into your online voting product outweigh the risks. At this stage, it would be nice to have a Professional Business Analyst
who can thoroughly evaluate the current state of the market. With a deep analysis of market trends and competitor offerings, you can make the right technology and functionality choices and get strong arguments to win over your stakeholders.
Public Trust — To the public, the blockchain is mostly known as the technological basis of the cryptocurrency world. Thus, your marketing team will need to work closely with end users to address their concerns and doubts when promoting the platform. Running an Independent Security Audit of the Platform
and showcasing its results can help you increase the public’s trust in your product.
Aside from these challenges, there are specific technical limitations that your development team should account for when building an online blockchain-based voting system:
Software and Device Dependencies — Like many digital solutions, a blockchain-based voting system is still dependent on the software and equipment used by voters. Hackers may use software or device flaws to steal a voter’s data or alter a vote before it’s recorded on the blockchain.
Platform Scalability — With blockchain-based platforms, sudden spikes of active users can lead to slower transaction processing and higher fees. Your team should account for this when choosing a blockchain network and architecture for your solution.
Private key-based User Verification — To verify a user’s identity, most blockchain platforms use unrestorable private keys. If a user loses access to their private key, they can be disqualified and thus unable to vote.
To overcome some of these challenges, you may consider limiting the use of blockchain technology in your online voting solution. Depending on the task at hand, the focus of your development team may range from ensuring the secure recording of votes on the blockchain to casting actual votes using smart contracts.
For example, you can use a blockchain only for storing vote results while leveraging other technologies for validating users and casting ballots. This is what researchers from Concordium Blockchain are currently looking into. Their goal is to evaluate if blockchain-based e-voting can increase voter participation
, offering a secure solution to Greenland’s vote station accessibility issues.
No matter how extensively you want to use a blockchain in your e-voting product, there are several technical aspects your development team needs to pay special attention to. Let’s talk about them in the next section.
4 core aspects of building a blockchain-based voting solution
When using blockchain for an electronic voting system, your team will need to answer the following four questions:
Let’s find answers to each of these questions.
1. What type of blockchain network will we use?
There are three common types of blockchain network architectures for your team to choose from:
Your choice can be influenced by several aspects:
Level of decentralization
Permissioned networks are preferable for cases when only partial decentralization is desired. To achieve the maximum possible decentralization, a public permissionless blockchain would be best.
In public networks, all transaction information is available to everyone, so you can monitor election progress in real-time. However, if you want to manage what data can be seen by the public, you’d better go with a private blockchain network.
Finally, all public blockchain networks require a transaction fee (mostly as a security measure against Denial of Service Attacks
). While there are mechanisms that can make a transaction in a public network free for a user, it’s much easier to configure free transactions within a private blockchain network.
2. What consensus algorithm will we implement?
Consensus algorithms are responsible for reaching a single source of truth within a blockchain and can be competitive or non-competitive.
Competitive consensus algorithms were widely applied in the first blockchain models. While they can successfully achieve their main goal — reaching an agreement between nodes — they may be prone to double payment.
Non-competitive consensus algorithms, on the other hand, allow for processing only one agreement at a time in a trusted network. However, as networks relying on such algorithms usually consist of a few nodes, they can be more vulnerable to attacks than larger distributed ledgers with no single point of failure.
3. What integration opportunities will we enable?
While the blockchain has promising potential for use in the voting process, it won’t completely replace other voting approaches. Currently, digital voting solutions are most likely to be used in conjunction with traditional offline voting.
Your development team can leverage blockchain technology in a voting system to authenticate voters, cast ballots, and securely store identification and voting data. Thus, your blockchain-based solution might need to be able to integrate with:
Third-party identity verification services
Databases storing votes cast by other systems
Depending on the extent to which blockchain technology is used in your application, you need to plan different integration scenarios for each of these three options.
Also, when using a blockchain-based system alongside other electronic or offline voting approaches, it’s vital to make sure a user won’t be able to vote several times through different channels.
4. How can we maintain the required level of anonymity?
By default, blockchain transactions are public so that any user might access transaction details. However, online elections usually require ensuring complete ballot secrecy. So when building an e-voting system using a blockchain, it’s necessary to eliminate the possibility of linking a particular vote to a particular user. The only exceptions are cases where voter anonymity isn’t necessary, such as in parliamentary voting or when casting stakeholder ballots.
Many of the current blockchain-based voting systems rely on Non-Interactive Zero-Knowledge
arguments as a measure for achieving the right balance between ballot secrecy and verifiable voting results.
After answering these four questions, your development team will be able to outline the basic set of requirements for your blockchain-based e-voting solution.
Building a custom digital voting platform can help organizations make data-driven decisions and reduce administrative overhead and human errors. With a blockchain, you can enhance such platforms with features such as automated transactions, traceable operations, and immutable data records. In contrast to regular online voting platforms, blockchain-based solutions also provide a high level of voting transparency and protect against fabricated vote results.
Datazo InfoTech’s Blockchain Development Experts
can assist your organization with designing and delivering a custom web solution enhanced with blockchain-based capabilities.
Reach out to start discussing the details of leveraging blockchain technology for your business!