For some time now, it’s seemed as though no American election cycle can ever truly be considered complete without the obligatory questions about the integrity of the voting process. Take the 2016 campaign, for example. It’s been more than a month since the American public went to the polls to elect Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States, and some are still talking about electoral integrity. If the creators of the proposed Votebook blockchain voting system have their way, the country could begin to resolve many of those concerns – and sooner than some might expect.
Votebook was the winner of the recent Kapersky Labs contest, taking home the $10,000 first-place prize. The blockchain-based system proposes a solution that would use distributed ledger technology to connect voting machines and allow voters to personally verify that their votes have been counted. The system would provide a secure record of all voter activities that would help to mitigate many voters’ concerns about whether their votes actually count.
There’s been an ongoing debate about voter ID, voting machine integrity, and registration activities for many years now. After this most recent election, Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein wasted time and money to force recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania - based in part on dubious claims that the Russians hacked into voting machines (but apparently only in those three states – as strange as that might sound). Meanwhile, a canvas of votes cast in Michigan revealed potential problems in Detroit – a city in which 95% of the voters chose Hillary Clinton:
Voting machines in more than one-third of all Detroit precincts registered more votes than they should have during last month’s presidential election, according to Wayne County records prepared at the request of The Detroit News.
To put that into perspective, there were more precincts that reported too many votes than there were precincts that produced accurate counts. That’s clearly a problem.
Of course, Votebook cannot resolve all of those problems – at least not with its current proposal, but it might be a step in the right direction. And in a time when many Americans have legitimate concerns about the integrity of the electoral process that underpins their republican form of government, even a small step deserves consideration.