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[Busan Ilbo] 'Stop Fraudulent Elections'... Will blockchain change the way we vote?

Busan Ilbo  2024-02-29

'Stop Fraudulent Elections'... Will blockchain change the way we vote?



Active in Estonia, USA and other countries
Ministry of Science and ICT·Busan City Promotes 'referendum'
Violating the secret ballot? ‘zkVoting’ alternatives

블록체인 기술이 부정선거 의혹을 불식시킬 대안으로 떠오르고 있다. 사진은 지난 2021년 미국 대선 이후 도널드 트럼프 미국 대통령 지지 시위대 수천 명이 부정선거를 주장하며, 워싱턴DC 국회의사당에 모인 모습. AP연합뉴스

Blockchain has been touted as a technology that could help eliminate election fraud. While the idea is to apply this highly secure technology to elections, it has been argued that the technical barriers to making blockchain accessible to the average citizen, including the elderly, must first be broken down.


In December last year, the National Assembly Research Service released a report titled "Issues and Directions for the Internet Voting System," saying that "blockchain technology, if adopted, can prevent the forgery of voting information and reduce the risk of hacking," and that "(blockchain technology) has the advantage of securing transparency and confidentiality when applied to online voting.


Earlier in June last year, the Ministry of Science and ICT (hereinafter referred to as the Ministry of Science and ICT) announced that it would establish an online referendum system in its "blockchain industry promotion strategy."


Busan City, a special blockchain regulatory free zone, also unveiled a blueprint that citizens' opinions will be directly reflected in the city administration through a referendum based on blockchain technology by 2026.


The reason why government agencies and local governments pushed for blockchain-based voting is that data forgery is virtually impossible within the blockchain. Voting information is stored in several blocks, which increases the safety of data.


Another advantage is that voting information can be shared with all participants, including voters, candidates, observers, and the National Election Commission (hereinafter referred to as the NEC) to enable mutual verification. Since everyone participates as a validator, there is less room for raising suspicions about illegal elections.


In fact, overseas, blockchain technology is being applied to elections. Representatively, Estonia, a European information technology (IT) powerhouse, has built an electronic voting applying blockchain technology to e-government systems and has been using them for voting for a long time. In 2011, as a result of conducting blockchain-based electronic voting in the election of the National Assembly members, the turnout increased five times than before.


Spain's Podemos, which was founded in 2014, introduced a blockchain voting system called "Agora Voting" into the party's decision-making system, and the United States also used blockchain voting in the process of selecting the 2016 presidential candidate.


On the other hand, there is also concern that the 'secret election' principle, one of the four election principles, may be damaged. This is because it is difficult to forge data due to the technical nature of the blockchain, but the possibility of sharing related information increases.


To guarantee secret elections, zkcrypto, a domestic blockchain technology start-up, is signing an agreement with the National Election Commission on "zkVoting" technology.


zkVoting has been applied with 'zero-knowledge proof' technology that can prove that only legitimate voters participated in the voting while ensuring anonymity of voters' status and voting content. The technology also won the "Best Innovation Award" at the International Customer Electronics Show (CES) for the second consecutive year following last year.


However, there are concerns that it is too early to apply blockchain technology to major elections such as presidential and general elections. This is because most citizens must first get used to blockchain in order to use the blockchain voting system while the elderly population is about to reach 10 million.


"Blockchain is a technology that brings innovation, but it is still too early for large-scale national elections," an official from the Ministry of Science and ICT said. "The priority is that citizens can use it without inconvenience, and the goal is to gradually melt blockchain technology into life through online referendums."


Journalist Lee junghun (leejnghun@busan.com)


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