As more and more people start shifting their attention to the potential of the Bitcoin protocol instead of the bitcoin value, a lot of new possibilities are within our reach. One of the more interesting uses for blockchain technology could come in the form of a voting system. Everyone can see the outcome of the voting, but you cannot see who voted for what. Sounds like an interesting concept once you give it some thought.
Blockchain Voting – Not A New Concept
The concept of using the blockchain to register votes is not something new, as several altcoins are making use of such a feature already. But there is a twist, as you would have to be a member of that altcoin’s network in order to cast your vote via their blockchain. Plus, your vote would only affect the course of that specific alternate digital currency, without any “real life” implications per sé.
However, even though that concept might be in its infancy, it does bring up some interesting use cases for blockchain voting in a “real life” environment. In order to develop such a feature, it would require proper planning, implementation and execution. But such a “tool” brings a massive potential to the world of digital currencies.
The Blockchain – An Open Ledger for Votes
Many people see the blockchain as an open leder for transactions, but the technology has so much more potential than just displaying a transaction history dating back to the Genesis Block. In fact, several people already include a small note with their (Bitcoin) transactions these days, so we are already sort of “broadcasting information publicly”.
Imagine if a voting process took place on the blockchain. The results would be broadcasted to the (Bitcoin) network immediately for everyone to see, and there is no way to game the technological part of the system. Even though the information would be publicly visible for everyone to see, it is impossible to determine who voted for which outcome.
Implementation & Execution
Despite how appealing the concept of blockchain voting may sound, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to properly implement and execute such a powerful tool. Voting via an existing blockchain such as the Bitcoin one could bring a lot of “blockchain bloat” with it, an issue developers are already trying to battle at this point in time.
On the other hand, voting relies on human input interpreted by the blockchain technology. But we also need a way to verify those votes, in order to avoid an attempt to “game the system”. There are several methods of preventing manipulation on the technological side, such as using oracles, or maybe even an adaptation of “multi-signature” voting in order to pass a motion.
As the human element remains incredibly unpredictable, and humans still remain subject to outside influences, threats and corruption, voting will never be a perfect system by a long shot. However, voting on the blockchain does remove some of the “secrecy” that goes hand in hand with voting, which is a step in the right direction towards a new era of openness and transparency.
Blockchain Voting Use Cases
Assuming we would ever implement the technology to cast votes through the blockchain for “real life situations”, it would be best to start out small. For example, a school council deciding whether or not to get brand new manuals for their students, or whether or not we need additional options for vegetarian food on the cafeteria menu.
If these small steps would prove to be a (great) success, we can eventually start looking at the bigger picture. An interesting implementation of this feature would be the upcoming Bitcoin Foundation elections. Imagine if eligible people could cast their vote through the blockchain to decide who should be on the “board” or not.
Down the line, we might even see national elections decided by blockchain voting technology. No special software or paper-and-pen ballots in our future, but all it takes is a simple piece of software with a list of candidates, and multiple confirmation dialogs before broadcasting the result to the blockchain. Or maybe there are far better implementations for such a feature we have yet to discover, who can tell?
Example of a Blockchain Voting Platform
Bitcongress, the most transparent form of government on Earth, is already working on bringing blockchain voting to both cryptocurrency enthusiasts and people demanding more transparency in regards to elections and votes. However, not much seems to be happening with that platform, as users were supposedly able to register to vote in December of 2014, and that temporary placeholder page is still there.
Ideas like these are still in the very early stages, and we have to overcome a lot of hurdles before features like this will ever be used in real life situations. But that doesn’t mean no one is working on it behind the scenes. BLockchain voting will be an interesting topic over the next few years .