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Why I’m Thumbs-Down on Blockchain Voting, but Thumbs-Up on Ethereum

0 | By Michael A. Robinson

Now that we’re past Election Day, a certain sort of “silly season” has begun.

I’m talking about folks coming up with big ideas on how to fix our outdated voting system.

And one of the big ideas out there is using blockchain for voting.

Let’s stop that conversation… now.

The other day, the Twitter cryptoverse blew up after Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, had his op-ed on the matter published in The New York Times.

In it, Tapscott presents his case for using a blockchain to carry out online voting. He apparently believes such a process would be much more decentralized and safe from hacking. The only downside, he claims, is a potential delay in the voting process.

Let me just tell you straight up: This is a terribly ill-considered idea, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, votes have to remain secret and anonymous. If not, that can lead to coercion in voting, as Princeton University cryptography professor Matthew Blaze has pointed out on Twitter.

Problem is, blockchains are typically designed to be public.

“If I can verify that my vote was correctly recorded, then your local mob boss can also use my receipt to verify the same thing,” Blaze wrote.

Then there’s the malware issue…

In a September report on blockchain voting, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said the strategy does little to solve the fundamental security issues of elections, but instead add more security vulnerabilities.

“In particular, if malware on a voter’s device alters a vote before it ever reaches a blockchain, the immutability of the blockchain fails to provide the desired integrity, and the voter may never know of the alteration,” the report’s authors concluded.

Even Vitalik Buterin, one of the key founders of Ethereum (ETH), poo-pooed the idea, at least for something as important as a national election.

“There are limited e-voting usecases that make sense, but *really important* to stress, on-chain votes should NOT be used to choose national governments,” he tweeted. Later clarifying his position further, he wrote: “Online voting requires some very specific privacy and security properties and specific techniques to achieve them, and just shoving stuff onto a public ledger can often even be actively counterproductive.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and have been for years.

The technology is, in a word, impressive.

Building up a market cap of nearly $200 billion in just a few years, cryptocurrencies have allowed people around the world to buy, sell, and store value in a digital format. And the technology is still just getting off the ground.

Distributed ledger technology, as it’s also known, holds great promise for everything from eliminating the middleman in paperwork- and fee-driven bureaucratic processes like banking, payments, insurance and real estate, to helping global shipping companies better coordinate and streamline their supply chains.

Plus, blockchain protocols like Ethereum are being used to host a whole other layer of applications, known as “dapps,” to allow people to make wagers, play games, and trade on decentralized exchanges and marketplaces.

In fact, I believe the Ethereum network, the third-largest public blockchain with a market cap of more than $18 billion, has a nearly limitless future.

The platform is basically the biggest player on the market in hosting dapps — and executing smart contracts.

Ethereum is different and, I’ll continue to argue, better than most other cryptocurrencies because of its smart contracts and application development functions.

That’s why I’ve put together a webinar that explains the easiest way to grab a huge chunk of this crypto wealth for yourself.

I’m talking about raking in cash from dozens of cryptocurrencies day after day, week after week.

Click here to learn more.

Have a great weekend!

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