India is the largest democracy in the world where the government is chosen by the people, of the people and for the people. But off late, with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) scam gaining pace, there have been doubts whether this is really happening or the ones in the power are making a mockery out of the country and its citizens.
Although the EVM hackathon organised by the Election Commission of India (ECI) earlier this month might have proven to be a dud, but it did give the common people an excuse to cough up some attention on what can be considered as the biggest problem in a democracy, provided if it does exist.
There are several studies in public domain today that allege that EVMs hardware and software can be tampered with to practice election malpractices. Although the ECI has maintained that such a thing is not possible in the EVMs that they have been using.
In a response to the aforementioned studies/reports, several tech enthusiasts have suggested using emerging and contemporary technologies in EVMs rather than the one that are being using currently. One of the most commonly suggested technology by tech experts in India that can solve the EVM tampering debates all at once is blockchain. Experts are confident that the blockchain’s attributes of transparency, immutability and trust can work wonders for the EVM system and put an end to issues like vote manipulation/tampering in the country’s famous democratic process of elections. Furthermore, experts are also positive that conditions now are most favourable for implementation of the technology as an alternative for EVMs in India as the country has improved infrastructure and interest in place. The country has see around 32 blockchain firms being founded in 2016, up from 23 founded before 2016, according to a fintech report by PwC.
For the unversed, a blockchain is basically an anonymous online ledger that makes use of a data structure to make the process of transaction an easier and simpler process. It provides users the ability to manipulate the ledger in a safe way without seeking the support of a third party. While a bank’s ledger has connections to a centralised network, a blockchain is anonymous as it helps in protecting the identities of the users. This is what makes the technology of blockchain a safer way to carry out transactions than any other existing processes. Blockchain’s algorithm reduces the dependence on people to verify the transactions. This technology, which is currently being used for recording various transactions, has the true potential of completely disrupting the financial system in the near future.
When it comes to blockchain voting, every vote will be considered similar to a transaction and by employing multiple blockchains along with public key encryption, the voting process in the democracy will be protected while protecting the anonymity feature of the voting process. In the Blockchain voting process, the votes can be randomized more than three times in the digital ballot box ensuring the identity of the voters’ is never revealed. Once the polling is closed, a separate blockchain application is built for the votes counting in the digital ballot box. That particular blockchain matches the public bulletin board’s blockchain, thus proving that the online voting system has acted accurately. The Blockchain voting system combines the audit trail of the transactions along with public key encryption which solves the issue of auditability.
Considering some countries like Australia, South Korea have already explored Blockchain voting in some or the way other, India should start experimenting with the technology soon if it wants to leave behind the EVM tampering debate far behind its democratic history.
India’s Central Bank, RBI research arm has also developed proof of concepts on blockchain in collaboration with some banks and revealed in its white paper that the results have been encouraging so far. Further, the SBI has also flagged a national blockchain bank consortium initiative earlier this year to build and implement blockchain solutions that can improve efficiency of the banking system and minimise fraud cases.
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