Gentlemen, I must admit, I like Kool Aid. ...
To be clear, I was very deliberate in saying that blockchain has a lot of POTENTIAL; not that it is the answer today. ... It does seem to me that things like transparency and auditability in our elections would be a good thing to strive for. ...
@CraginS, I can think of at least one of your 10 processes that could benefit from this. Think of a case where a voter is issued a token (think “coin”) upon registration and the global blockchain record then gets updated with that transaction. Regardless of location, this person could vote electronically after “depositing” the token. This could provide better accessibility for people that may not have the means to physically travel to the voting station due to cost, security, health, or any other reason. It could also ensure every voter only cast one vote. Just my two cents (pun intended).
Thank you for continuing this discussion. There are many valid aspects about blockchain and election management worth delving into. You suggested use of blockchain for voter verification at the time of voting, which I listed as process #5, Voter validity check upon distribution of ballots or appearance at polling place. You are right, that one step may be able to use blockchain to maintain the authoritative database for issued tokens. That could assist with one of the ways to interfere with elections: voter fraud, that is, either ineligible or ghost voters casting ballots. This is also the step with current controversy over voter identification. Recall that proponents of Voter ID want to ensure that only valid, eligible voters take part in the election. Opponents of Voter ID contend that the very process of requiring an approved identity token at the time fo voting is a form of voter suppression. The challenge of whether and how to carry out voter ID at the polls is different from the same two questions for remote or online voting. I'll set this discussion aside for the time being. Suffice it to say that a cryptographic token could be a useful ID token for online voting, whether its validity check is based on a blockchain database or a more traditional database.
But this leads us to the essential question that should be addressed on every blockchain proposal: Will the blockchain implementation be better than existing database processes in use for the same goal? Better could be lower cost, more efficient operations, or higher security. For blockchain to be truly useful for the online voter ID token, we should understand whether blockchain can show itself "better (cost, efficiency, security) than other available token and database systems. I'd appreciate your thoughts on that issue.
Next, and highly relevant to the goal of developing trustworthy election systems, is whether the improvement to the voter ID challenge alone should be the basis for going to online voting. I suggest that there are several other steps in the overall election process that are still too tenuous for us to accept online voting as being trustworthy. That is, we really need to have a trust and risk basis for the entire election system of systems (my 10 election processes) before diving into apprising the overall system.
Gentlemen, I must admit, I like Kool Aid. ...
In the end, am I drinking the Kool Aid? No, but I am guilty of taking a few sips to see how it tastes.
As for our Kool Aid comments, Grandpa Rob @rslade and I are both concerned that the rampant fascination of blockchain as the miracle drug to cure all our ills is too much like past industry fascinations with areas such as PKI. You are right, there may be situations in which a well managed blockchain may be better (cost, efficiency, security) that traditional database solutions. However, we keep seeing comments that "blockchain will fix that" without any concrete framework or design proposed, or without the clear demonstrations of the nature of the better that would result. Meaningful proposals for using blockchain must be based on a complete understanding of how blockchains belly work, as well as a full understanding of the business process that is being proposed for conversion to blockchain. Too many of the causal "et's use blockchain" have appeared to lack either of those understandings.
I look forward to Rob's comments in his reply there.
Best to you, and sincerely, let's keep this conversation going.
Interesting Computer World have also added more fuel to the debate:
Lets keep it going.
A study by researchers at New York University found that at least 16 million Americans in eight states will vote on completely paperless machines in the 2020..., despite a strong consensus among cybersecurity and national security experts that paper ballots and vote audits are necessary to ensure election security.
This could mean a great job opportunity for all adept hackers, I suppose they are sending their resumes discreetly...
I would think most sane people, would avoid this engagement entirely - unless they themselves have something to prove to themselves and their ego.