For the first time in Romania were the recent national parliamentary elections detained used blockchain technology in November with the main goal of ensuring the integrity of the election process and enhancing its transparency. The government was committed to providing tamper-proof and real-time voter attendance data.
There is still a way to go to allow voters to record, manage, count and monitor the votes themselves (without passing them over to the electoral authorities) by allowing them a copy of the ballot record. However, the perspectives to promote the development of a technology-enabled community consensus and to protect democratic values have been set out.
The novelty of using blockchain technology in Romanian elections
Blockchain technology has been applied in a variety of industries, where a chain of trust was required for the flow of information, with every change made in such a flow intended to be visible and highlighted. Elections have been found to be an area where such technology would be most useful to identify and prevent fraud, illegal voting (wrong people’s votes) or multiple voting by the same person or in more than one location.
Its main added value lies in the fact that it clearly does not allow the data recorded up to a point in time to be changed or modified, even by their administrators. It works the same way in other industries – it calculates unique and non-repeatable data prints, which are updated every five seconds. Any possible change in the information generates a new printout, making the change in question more visible.
The recorded information was made available to the public through a specifically designated portal. For statistical purposes, this is an extra layer of trust for data and its sources, as well as information security.
In terms of red tape in Romania, the blockchain also aided in post-election reporting – managing the minutes prepared in each voting section, further resulting in lower costs with other devices and staff.
Ideas of innovative blockchain technology revolutionizing voting were introduced in the European Union in 2016 when the European Parliament started to address their implications for the future of democracy from such a switch from the offline, paper-based process to a modern, simplified and easy-to-follow one.
Elections of political parties in Estonia, Norway and Switzerland have already adopted blockchain technology, but it has been repeatedly recognized that proposals to use blockchain in national elections should comply with several other areas of European law, including privacy and data protection for voters, as well as accessibility for all. burgers. In Russia, a DLT-based system was used for the Elections Moscow 2019.
Sierra Leone used a blockchain-based voting system for its 2018 presidential election and became the first country to do so, with blockchain seen as a savior in electoral processes by ensuring unspoiled elections in Africa.
Japan is currently considering partnering with a digital identity application to build a blockchain-based voting system of itself to be used for elections in the city of Kaga. The partnership intends to create a stable and transparent electoral process, with the aim of verifying the voter’s identity and ensuring that only one ballot is issued per person, and enabling voters to check their result and that it has been properly executed on the blockchain network.
Academics and cybersecurity experts agree that DLT-based voting systems are still in the experimental phase. Researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology don’t consider blockchain voting technology reliable, and it has released a paper showing that blockchain systems should reduce the following risks:
- Ballot secret
- Software independence and disputability (a bug in the software should not affect the outcome of the vote. If an error occurs, can those who manage the software agree that an error has occurred?)
- Voter verification and audits.
In principle, such voting requirements can be undermined by human intervention and cyber attacks. The fintech space is littered with examples of theft.
However, using a two-step approach could be the way to maturity of e-voting systems. Romania has already used a voting reporting tool, and the country had voter turnout figures and additional statistics, proving that blockchain technology can be used in elections.
This article was contributed by Alexandru Stanescu and Ioana Mitu.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the sole ones of the authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Alexandru Stanescu is one of the founders of SLV Legal, a company focused on deep tech, fintech, blockchain technology, crypto, Romanian startups, internationalization and alternative dispute resolution. Previously, he worked as chief legal officer of a blockchain startup in blockchain legal affairs at Baker Botts in London and at the World Bank in the global practice of trade and competitiveness. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School, University of Deusto and University of Bucharest. SLV Legal is a member of the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium.
Ioana Mitu works at SLV Legal and has experience in banking. Her relevant work highlights from recent years include regulatory procedures for registration, merger or acquisition approvals of qualifying holdings, as well as compliance with licensing requirements for national authorities. She is involved in fintech, blockchain and start-up financing. She is an enthusiastic community builder at the intersection of law, policy and technology. She is a member of the Bucharest Bar Association.