Blockchain

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National: New NASEM Report Suggests Blockchain And Online Voting Systems Are No-Go | BitCoinExchange

The United States National Academies of Sciences (NASEM) released a report which asserted that virtual voting systems ought to be shelved. The firm is supporting the use of paper ballots in the entire US electoral system by 2020. According to the report entailed in the 156 page document, NASEM insists that virtual systems of voting ought to be shelved until such a time that the system can be verified to be secure. Authors of the said report are of the view that making use of the blockchain as an irreversible ballot box may appear promising, however, the technology may not be in a position of addressing the essential issues of the electoral process. The report is in essence a conclusion of a study that lasted two years. The committee behind the research comprised of election scholars, cybersecurity experts, as well as social scientists. Over and above, the report campaigns for the use of human-readable paper ballots in the next US elections. Read More

National: Report: Blockchain tech is not ready to be used for voting | CryptoNewsReview

Blockchain technology is unsuitable for use in voting systems until they are verified as secure, a scientific report has warned. The study, from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, concludes that internet-based voting systems are not ready for current use, although they “may seem promising” for use in the future. “Insecure internet voting is possible now, but the risks currently associated with internet voting are more significant than the benefits,” the report reads. “Secure internet voting will likely not be feasible in the near future. Read More

National: Are Blockchains the Answer for Secure Elections? Probably Not | Scientific American

With the U.S. heading into a pivotal midterm election, little progress has been made on ensuring the integrity of voting systems—a concern that retook the spotlight when the 2016 presidential election ushered Donald Trump into the White House amid allegations of foreign interference. A raft of start-ups has been hawking what they see as a revolutionary solution: repurposing blockchains, best known as the digital transaction ledgers for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, to record votes. Backers say these internet-based systems would increase voter access to elections while improving tamper-resistance and public auditability. But experts in both cybersecurity and voting see blockchains as needlessly complicated, and no more secure than other online ballots. Existing voting systems do leave plenty of room for suspicion: Voter impersonation is theoretically possible (although investigations have repeatedly found negligible rates for this in the U.S.); mail-in votes can be altered or stolen; election officials might count inaccurately; and nearly every electronic voting machine has proved hackable. Not surprisingly, a Gallup poll published prior to the 2016 election found a third of Americans doubted votes would be tallied properly. Read More

Editorials: Our soldiers deserve secure votes | Audrey Malagon/Gazette Mail

Amid suspicions of interference in the 2016 elections, states must be more careful than ever to provide heightened security in this year’s primaries. Yet, West Virginia has just introduced a more vulnerable form of voting for deployed military personnel. West Virginia is now the first state to pilot blockchain technology, to allow some deployed soldiers to vote through mobile phones. Yet cyber security experts warn that this technology, also used for cryptocurrencies, poses dangers for voting. Instead of pioneering voting’s future, West Virginia is paving the way for future election hacking. Blockchain technology addresses only part of the security process currently used by those administering U.S. elections. It’s like installing a high-tech lock and alarm system in your home, and then leaving a front door key and the alarm pass code under the doormat. The alarm system may work perfectly, but until the keys and pass codes are also secure, your home won’t be secure, either. Read More

Editorials: Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future | Kai Stinchcombe/Medium

Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future. Its failure to achieve adoption to date is because systems built on trust, norms, and institutions inherently function better than the type of no-need-for-trusted-parties systems blockchain envisions. That’s permanent: no matter how much blockchain improves it is still headed in the wrong direction. This December I wrote a widely-circulated article on the inapplicability of blockchain to any actual problem. People objected mostly not to the technology argument, but rather hoped that decentralization could produce integrity. Read More

Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone’s Blockchain Election That Wasn’t | Pacific Standard

Recently, a number of technology blogs breathlessly brought news that Sierra Leone “became the first country in the world to use blockchain during an election” on March 7th. “The tech, created by Leonardo Gammar of Agora, anonymously stored votes in an immutable ledger, thereby offering instant access to the election results,” according to TechCrunch. Blockchain ledgers, the theory goes, are more difficult to tamper with than traditional methods for storing vote data. PCMag called the election a “milestone,” showing that “blockchain networks and immutable ledgers can serve as a foundation for new trusted systems, redefining how we interact with an evolving digital world.” To be fair, these items, based on Agora’s own press release, generally noted several paragraphs below their headlines about a “blockchain-based election” that Agora was not verifying the official nationwide count—it had simply been registered as an observer in one district. Read More

Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone didn’t really use blockchain in their election | TNW

Following the presidential elections conducted in Sierra Leone on March 7, it was widely reported in the media that Sierra Leone had become the first country in the world to run blockchain-powered elections. These reports were based on the claims of a Swiss blockchain company, Agora, where it said that the country had utilized blockchain tech to tally and audit the election results. However, it seems that the company’s claims were entirely false. The National Election Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone released an official statement on Twitter on March 18 to set the record straight. The tweet quoted the NEC Chair Mohamed Conteh saying that “the NEC has not used, and is not using blockchain technology in any part of the electoral process.” Read More

Sierra Leone: Why you shouldn’t get carried away by Sierra Leone’s blockchain elections | Crypto-Lines

Last week Sierra Leone became the first country in the world to hold blockchain elections. They were supervised by Agora, a blockchain startup based in Switzerland. Once the voting of the region had taken place, over 400, 000 ballots were then manually fed into Agora,s blockchain. The CEO of Agora was very pleased with how smooth the process worked. He exuded excitement for the future of blockchain elections saying: “I strongly believe that this election is the beginning of a much larger blockchain voting movement.”  Read More

Editorials: Blockchains and Voting | Dan Wallach/Freedom to Tinker

I’ve been asked about a number of ideas lately involving voting systems and blockchains. This blog piece talks about all the security properties that a voting system needs to have, where blockchains help, and where they don’t. Let’s start off a decade ago, when Daniel Sandler and I first wrote a paper saying blockchains would be useful for voting systems. We observed that voting machines running on modern computers have overwhelming amounts of CPU and storage, so let’s use it in a serious way. Let’s place a copy of every vote on every machine and let’s use timeline entanglement (Maniatis and Baker 2002), so every machine’s history is protected by hashes stored on other machines. We even built a prototype voting system called VoteBox that used all of this, and many of the same ideas now appear in a design called STAR-Vote, which we hope could someday be used by real voters in real elections.

What is a blockchain good for? Fundamentally, it’s about having a tamper-evident history of events. In the context of a voting system, this means that a blockchain is a great place to store ballots to protect their integrity. STAR-Vote and many other “end-to-end” voting systems have a concept of a “public bulletin board” where encrypted votes go, and a blockchain is the obvious way to implement the public bulletin board. Every STAR-Vote voter leaves the polling place with a “receipt” which is really just the hash of their encrypted ballot, which in turn has the hash of the previous ballot. In other words, STAR-Vote voters all leave the polling place with a pointer into the blockchain which can be independently verified. … Achieving a “cast as intended” property requires a variety of mechanisms ranging from paper ballots and spot challenges of machines. The blockchain protects the integrity of the recorded vote, but has nothing to say about its fidelity to the intent of the voter. Read More

Voting Blogs: Blockchains & Elections: Don’t Believe the Hype | Free & Fair

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has risen into public consciousness over the past few years. It is the first digital currency to reach this level of success and notoriety. Bitcoin is based on a decades old cryptographic concept called a blockchain. As people and companies seek new ways to conduct elections that make better sense in our high tech world, several startups have proposed using blockchains, or even Bitcoin itself, to conduct elections. Using Bitcoin (or a blockchain) as an election system is a bad idea that really doesn’t make sense. While blockchains can be useful in the election process, they are only appropriate for use in one small part of a larger election system. A blockchain is basically a public database of information that is distributed across many different computers so that all users are able to verify that they have the same overall data even if some of the computers go down. There is no need to trust a central server or authority. A blockchain is a fundamental concept in cryptography that existed for decades prior to being used in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Read More