Senate Subcommittee Weighs Use of Blockchain for Remote Voting
Currently, the staff of the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations prepared a memorandum for subcommittee members in advance of its April 30, 2020 “Roundtable on Continuity of Senate Operations and Remote Voting in Times of Crisis.”
The memo describes Senate proposals to enable senators to participate and vote remotely during crises like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with importance on potential technological solutions like blockchain.
The memo introduces a captivating discussion of the history of the Senate’s voting protocols beginning back to the earliest days of the Republic, including the constitutional foundations of the Senate’s procedures. Of perhaps higher interest to the crypto community, nevertheless, is the memo’s discussion of blockchain.
There, the memo notes, with its encrypted distributed ledger, blockchain can both convey a vote securely and also check the correct vote. Some have claimed that these characteristics make blockchain valuable for electronic voting broadly. Blockchain can implement a secure and transparent environment for transactions and a tamper-free electronic record of all the votes. It also decreases the chances of incorrect vote tallies. Furthermore, some firms have already started to use blockchain-like technology to help countries, like Estonia, run elections entirely online.
Although some have lifted concerns about the usage of online systems for voting, those concerns are more particular to secret ballot elections than they are to public Senate votes. One problem particular to the Senate is the chance that majority control of the blockchain could slip into the wrong hands.
Due to the tiny size of the Senate, any remote blockchain voting system would require to be appropriately set up to reduce any threat of a 51% attack to assure that no bad actor could obtain majority control of a voting chain. Other security concerns for remote blockchain voting in the Senate involve possible vulnerabilities from cryptographic flaws and software bugs.
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