America’s voting machines are archaic and rundown, a recent study showed, and security experts have warned that voter machines are vulnerable to hacking. Enter Blockchain Technologies Corp, a company that hopes to replace existing proprietary machines with secure, open-source voting machines that use the blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin. … Advocates say blockchain-based elections are transparent and secure. They’ve been tested by the Liberal Alliance in Denmark and the European Pirate Party. And now, Blockchain Technologies Corp. is developing an actual voting machine that will record votes using a blockchain. … However, there’s only so much that blockchain technology can do. “Blockchain technology can provide untamperable audit trails, but it doesn’t solve the hard problem that erroneous or malicious software in the voting machine may cast votes other than how the voter intended, and the voter will never be able to know,” explains Jeremy Epstein, senior computer scientist at SRI International who actively warned about the security of Virginia’s machines.
Young admitted as much. “There is no such thing as an unhackable system,” he said. But his team does implement several safeguards. “The open source code combined with the paper, DVD, and blockchain audit trails may not completely eliminate fraud in the voting process, but it will be a step in the right direction. Especially compared to the 10-15 year old, buggy electronic voting machines we use today,” Young said.
There is more than one problem with current voting machines—Steve Borelli, software developer at the company, pointed to those manufactured by the banking and security company Diebold. One is that they use proprietary software that outsiders can’t inspect. Blockchain Technologies Corp plans to open source its voting machine software. “Anyone who knows Python can look at every nook and cranny of the code,” Borelli explained. “Diebold can’t do that.”
The machines will also use widely-available commodity hardware, so that broken parts can be replaced easily. The hardware for some voting machines is notoriously difficult to replace when the machines have been discontinued.