According to a recent report from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, relying on blockchain voting technology is not a reliable means of promoting greater turnout and may increase hackers’ risk of tampering with elections. The researchers at MIT are advocating against using Internet-based and blockchain-based voting systems in the future. However, several from the crypto community have proposed the use of blockchain technology in elections. Several cities around the world are already using the technology.
“Blockchain is unsuitable for political elections for the foreseeable future.”
The cybersecurity team of Sunoo Park, Michael Specter, Neha Narula, and Ronald L. Rivest at MIT concluded that blockchain was “unsuitable for political elections for the foreseeable future” when compared with software-independent methods including voting in person and mail-in ballots. Some of the concerns that researchers raised were the potential lack of ballot secrecy — traceable on the blockchain — and the lack of auditing in the event of a contested race. Rivest, an MIT professor and the senior author of the report, said that while the current election systems are far from perfect, blockchain would greatly increase the risk of undetectable, nation-scale election failures.
“There can be no insurance or recourse against a failure of democracy.”
The MIT research team argues that one of the main differences when using blockchain for a democratic process like voting versus financial transactions is that when hacks or fraud occurs, financial institutions sometimes have methods to compensate victims for their losses. Companies can reimburse funds, and even some crypto exchanges have been able to freeze tokens associated with a hack. “For elections, there can be no insurance or recourse against a failure of democracy,” the report states. “There is no means to make voters whole again after a compromised election,” it added.