India's Election Commission considering blockchain system for voting
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology to develop a blockchain system allowing Indian citizens to vote in regions outside of their own hometown.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that about 900 million people were eligible to vote in the 2019 election, however, a third of them did not vote largely due to not being able to get to their polling booth. The commissioner elaborated (emphasis added):
The EC[I] is working with the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, to develop a blockchain system that will allow voters registered in any part of the country to exercise their franchise even after they move cities.
Arora also said that he was hopeful that the blockchain system would be put in place during his tenure, adding:
A proposal to link voter IDs with Aadhaar, pending with the Ministry of Law, would be on the agenda during the EC’s February 18 deliberations on electoral reforms with the ministry.
In a “Blockchain Policy” report, published in May last year by the Telangana government in India, it was emphasized that:
Blockchain has relevancy in a wide variety of areas, including tax filing, voting, land registry, healthcare, creating tamper-proof voting records, vehicle registries, fraud-proof government benefits disbursements, and digital identities for individuals, such as refugees, who lack government-issued identity documents.
In the United States, several state and local governments have also been exploring using blockchain technology for voting. In January of this year, a lawmaker in Virginia submitted a resolution that called on the state government to study the use of blockchain in elections.
The Bill was entitled 'Requesting the Department of Elections to study the use of blockchain technology to protect voter records and election results. Report', and called for the state's Department of Education to "study the use of blockchain technology to protect voter records and election results."
In a report published in June last year, the California Senate Office of Research wrote:
The potential security benefits of blockchain technology have led to several proposals to apply it to an array of voting applications, from securely storing voter rolls to allowing voters to record their votes remotely through an app.
Voting has been one of the most-explored use cases of blockchain technology in many jurisdictions, and is great way for the government to dip its collective toes into the blockchain pond. While there has been some progress in Australia on this front (see Horizon State's management of a fisheries council election), when will we see the next Australian election use blockchain for voting?