Applications and Use Cases

India Discusses Using Blockchain to Enable Remote Voting

October 14, 2020

India is in the process of discussing using blockchain technology to enable remote voting. The country's Election Commission has held a series of webinars, in coordination with the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA), to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using the technology for voting.

Remote voting would enable the approximately 51 million internal migrant and seasonal workers in India to be able to vote. Blockchain technology has already been used globally in some elections, with mixed results. The technology uses a decentralized and distributed ledger architecture where bits of data are dispersed throughout the network. Since no single entity owns the data, the system is protected from manipulation, fraud and security breaches.

“In principle, to aid in remote voting, an election system needs to address the following: simplicity, security, authentication, authorization, auditability and deter coercion," Jayavaradhan Sambedu, co-founder and CEO of Curl Analytics, told the Sunday Guardian. Sambedu moderated segments of the Election Commission's webinar on "Remote Voting using Blockchain."

"In remote voting, blockchain can be used in electoral roll management, to ensure the records are maintained transparently," said Sambedu. "A voter can walk to a polling station, verify against an electoral roll, authenticate via Aadhaar and then move to the private enclosure, where he can securely cast his vote on the EVMs. These are two separate systems. This will ensure a bonafide individual can cast his vote in a remote polling station.”

Sambedu added that blockchain relies on cryptography, digital signatures and distributed consensus, making it resistant to tampering. The technology scrambles transaction details on the blockchain using the hashing technique. When designed properly, these details are unidirectional and are complex to reverse engineer.

According to Gokul Alex, chief innovation officer at EPIC Knowledge Society, the larger the blockchain, the stronger the defense mechanism. Alex, who also spoke in the series of webinars, told the Sunday Guardian that the blockchain system prevents advanced hackers from "barging" into the network and adding their IP addresses to gain access to data.

“Barging into IP happens in centralized networks," said Alex. "In a decentralized network, we create a network and it will verify the members. We don’t need IP whitelisting, it could be a network where people would join based on proof of their identity.” He added that distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can also be prevented by creating multiple layer-based encryptions.

“We have to evaluate whether this is the best alternative to existing methodology and what value addition the blockchain will bring which is not available with the existing process," said Nappinai N.S., a webinar speaker and founder of Cyber Saathi. “We shouldn’t envision it with 0 or 1 perspective i.e. adopting an entire process of the blockchain or nothing at all. It would be a long process because we may also have to relook the laws and regulation to see whether existing laws can be adapted for new technology usage."

To learn more about how blockchain is being used by governments for voting as well as in the enterprise and beyond TMC is hosting The Blockchain Event on June 22-25, 2021, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The event will feature panel discussions, keynotes and case studies about the role of blockchain in a variety of industries and vertical markets.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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