As media outlets waited to announce a winner until the Saturday following the U.S. presidential election, calls for how blockchains would have made this process easier emerged, most prominently perhaps by Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, as well as Vitalik Buterin, who added that, though there are technical challenges, the call for a blockchain-based, mobile voting app “is directionally 100% correct.”
A new report from MIT, however, strongly argues against the idea of blockchain-based e-voting, largely on the basis that it will increase cybersecurity vulnerabilities that already exist, it fails meet the unique needs of voting in political elections and it adds more issues than it fixes.
The report’s authors are Ron Rivest, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) professor and one of the creators of RSA encryption; Michael Specter; Sunoo Park; and Director of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) Neha Narula. The paper was published on the research team’s website this week and is being reviewed by a major cybersecurity journal for publication this winter..
“I haven’t yet seen a blockchain system that I would trust with a county-fair jellybean count, much less a presidential election,” said Rivest in a blog post accompanying the report.
Why online voting isn’t like digital banking
The report recognizes the desire for people to want the voting process to be faster and more efficient, but pushes back on the idea that just because we do things like shop or bank online, that means elections should be done in the same way.
One reason is that those systems have “higher tolerances for failure.” For example,