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US Congress Supports the Blockchain-based Voting to Address Tabled Issues amid Corona Crisis

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Jayashree Ingle Follow

INDIA

Aug, 27 2020

Aug, 27 2020

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The ongoing corona pandemic is instrumental in changing the course of economies across the world and is influencing the policymakers as well. US Senate is no exception to this very situation. In last week's development, the US Senate held a round table discussion to seek solutions for the remote smooth functioning of the two legislative houses amid the corona crisis. And the blockchain-based solution has been considered as one of the viable options to carry out voting on tabled issues.

A staff memo has been released by the US Congress, evaluating the feasibility of the blockchain technology to conduct remote voting.

The memo emphasizes that the two chambers have always hold in-person meetings for committee hearings, floor deliberation, and voting. Thus neither of the chambers has a contingency plan to conduct these functions remotely.

However, the document affirms that through the encrypted distributed ledger, blockchain can be a feasible option to carry out the voting process securely and smoothly with the verification of the correct vote.   

The Document states, “Blockchains can provide a transparent and secure environment for transactions and a tamper-free electronic record of all the votes. It also reduces the risks of incorrect vote tallies.”

The document also mentions the Estonia parliamentary elections in 2019, wherein 44% of votes have been cast online that underlines the likelihood of blockchain deployment in future elections.

Arguments over Risks involved with Blockchain

The memo has arrived when the deliberations in the houses have been heating up, about the deployment and efficacy of the blockchain-based solutions in the governance. In the meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has also been requested by the members of Congress to ruminate the proposal to use blockchain-based stimulus distributions.

While identifying the risk of 51% attack while conducting the Senate polls, the document also indicates the threats involved in using blockchain. It also expresses concerns about the possible vulnerabilities of bugs and cryptographic errors.

Blockchain as an immutable ledger can provide a secure way to cast and verify the vote. Distributed voting systems have been experimented previously in the US elections in some way or another. However, there have been arguments about the early use of the blockchains owing to the failure blockchain application Voatz in the context of security and transparency. Voatz had been used in previous municipal and runoff elections in the US.


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Jayashree Ingle

CBW - External Analyst

INDIA

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