Regain trust in electoral system using blockchain
In recent times, people seem to be smitten with the term, blockchain, popping it into conversations without much knowledge of the concept.
Recently, I attended a client call on digital transformation when the client's chief financial officer was almost frantic in using the term blockchain, irrespective of its relevance in the conversation. I had little choice but to refrain from correcting his misconception of the term.
A few days later, one of my friends announced that he had invested in a new blockchain company and that he is going to be a millionaire! When asked what blockchain is, he simply replied, "Don't ask me as I'm not quite sure I understand fully what it is. But I do know that blockchain is the future, and it's going to revolutionise everything."
I asked him whether he meant Bitcoin by blockchain, and he immediately pounced on it, exclaiming, "Yes, exactly!" Unlike my client's CFO, I could tell my friend this time that blockchain and Bitcoin are not the same things!
In my lifetime, I have never heard of any election in Bangladesh without allegations of corruption. This deep-rooted public mistrust goes way beyond the electoral process. While Bangladesh is making commendable progress on its path to digitalisation, its citizens would also love to see breakthrough changes in its electoral system, at least being piloted in the future local or mayoral election.
Blockchain is one such technology that can revolutionise elections by providing a secure, transparent, and tamper-proof means of voting system.
Blockchain can enable a decentralised voting system where each participant can verify the authenticity of the vote without relying on a central authority or intermediary. It can provide a transparent and auditable record of all votes, which can help prevent fraud and ensure the results are accurate and trustworthy.
Once recorded on the blockchain, the vote cannot be altered or deleted, providing a tamper-proof record of the vote. It can enable a secure and confidential voting system where each participant can verify the authenticity of their vote without revealing their identity.
Blockchain can enable remote and mobile voting, enabling easier participation in the voting process. Lastly, blockchain technology can enable near-instant vote counting, providing timely and accurate results to the participants with no scope for manipulation.
At present, there are only a few countries that have used blockchain technology in their voting systems. Estonia has been using a blockchain-based voting system since 2014.
In 2018, Sierra Leone became the first country to use blockchain technology in its presidential election. In the US, West Virginia implemented a blockchain-based voting system in 2018 for the midterm elections.
Russia has been testing a blockchain-based voting system since 2019. South Korea also tested it in the city of Seoul.
However, implementing a blockchain-based voting system would require significant technical expertise, careful consideration of legal and ethical implications, and ecosystem readiness, like mobile connectivity.
Globally, the use of blockchain technology in voting systems is still in its early stages, and there are ongoing debates regarding its maturity. Bangladesh should have the vision to have a blockchain-based electoral system to regain voters' trust, which will definitely be a milestone on its path to becoming an intelligent nation, as our prime minister envisaged.
The author is founder and managing director of BuildCon Consultancies Ltd