‘Blockchain is not the answer’; Experts Say

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The US midterm elections are over. After a test for social networking giants in Silicon Valley, experts have agreed that blockchain cannot cure the voting system. Other than debilitating anxiety facing social media companies, voters also faced frustration. Much of the difficulties came from voting machines that kept malfunctioning. Erring machines led to long lines of people willing to vote.

At several locations, a large number of people wanted to vote but could not do so. This happened due to voting machines that stopped working hence meaning a lesser number of people could vote.

Arvind Narayanan is an associate professor at Princeton who teaches computer science. He has tweeted:

“If you’re trying to convince Walmart it needs blockchains to track avocados or whatever, be our guest. But if you’re messing with critical infrastructure, you’ve crossed a line.”

What is Blockchain

Blockchain basically means the type of technology where computers build a shared digital ledger. This ledger is also secure and decentralized. Currently, the most famous presence of Blockchain is its relationship with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency that attracted interest from several industries. These industries saw advantages in the concept of the blockchain.

Voting was one of the places where the authorities thought blockchain would work. West Virginia was the pioneer in this regard. In May, an election platform using the internet was launched for residents of the state who live abroad. This platform is Voatz. The state authorities have used the blockchain in the recent primary elections. Around 140 residents used Voatz to vote in the primaries.

The Reaction

There was considerable jubilation among users who welcomed the creation of easy and secure voting. New York Times also boosted the reputation of the blockchain. The platform did so by publishing a piece by Alex Tapscott who is the co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute. Tapscott claimed that the current voting system was outdated and that blockchain could cure the grievances with it. Tapscott says that voting in the US has transformed from in-person to digital.

However, not all reactions have been dreamy and full of hope. Angela Walch is an associate professor at the Law School of St. Mary’s University. She is also a blockchain researcher. In a tweet, she has said:

“This is ridiculous. Please stop pumping #blockchain tech for critically important use cases like voting in public elections when all actual voting experts disagree. Misleading policymakers and the public on this is irresponsible.”

Another critic is Ben Adida. Adida is executive director of VotingWorks which is a non-profit organization trying to modernize voting. Ben tweeted:

“While the notion of using a blockchain as an immutable ballot box may seem promising, blockchain technology does little to solve the fundamental security issues of elections, and indeed, blockchains introduce additional security vulnerabilities.”

Matt Blaze is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches computer information. Blaze tweeted:

“The charlatans pushing for blockchain elections and online voting are doing the equivalent of advocating a healthcare policy that assumes we’re about to cure cancer. Maybe we will, but best not to bet on it.”

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