Voting with a touch of a finger has allowed us to conduct elections with greater ease, but the aging hardware of the electronic voting machines used in many states has caused security concerns to swell.
There are countless demonstrations of gaping security holes in widely used voting machines. Changing the outcome of an election might be easy as "123" or "admin," considering those are some of the passwords used to secure voting machines.
Other findings are equally as disturbing. During a security audit in Virginia, investigators were able to connect to a voting machine's wireless network, the same network used in tallying votes.
Many have argued that the security of voting machines is beyond questionable, and some are working on revamping the flawed technology. One organization, Follow My Vote, has proposed an online voting solution that is decentralized and built for security and transparency. The solution advocates that new technology can significantly improve the election process.
Some argue that those who count the votes are the ones who really decide the outcome of elections, and Follow My Vote aims to create an election process in which elections could be openly and mathematically proven to be accurate.
Follow My Vote argues that election transparency is a critical issue in democratic governments, stating:
"To us, part of fixing the process means the ability to independently audit an election. Without transparency, there is absolutely no definitive way that people can verify that their votes have been accurately recorded and stored, and that the results of the election have not been tampered with."
Since you don't have to pay a computer program to count votes and oversee elections, Follow My Vote claims their solution would also significantly decrease the cost of elections. But as seen with voting machines, when technology enters the mix, security becomes an issue.Computer security experts have lamented about the security of voting machines for
years. But the network proposed to handle the election process in Follow My Vote's solution has an impressive security record. It uses the blockchain system pioneered by the mysterious "Satoshi Nakamoto" of Bitcoin that has yet to be cracked.
Like Bitcoin, the proposed software is open source, which means anyone can view its code. This means everyone can make sure the program itself doesn't have a security bug.
In order to ensure security, Follow My Vote's solution uses public key cryptography very similar to the PGP system widely used in electronic communications, only it uses the stronger ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography) encryption scheme.
In an interview for IVN, Follow My Vote CEO Adam Ernest said the technology is revolutionary:
"We’re using this technology to allow people to audit not only their own vote, but an entire election. It’s very powerful for voters to be able to follow their vote and engage in the political process from anywhere using any device. Many people are dissatisfied with the political environment, and our software will help to increase voter turnout, especially among the younger generations."
Votes are verified for authenticity by a group of delegates prior to being recorded in the block chain. Identity verification would also be conducted by some users to ensure that the identity of voters are valid and that they are eligible to vote.
To ensure accountability, all votes are recorded into the publicly verifiable transaction ledger and every participant can track their vote and see that it was applied correctly.
However, in the event that a voter's computer was compromised by a person who intended to influence their vote, the encryption key used in safe guarding it would be compromised, possibly allowing a third party to change the vote.
No computer system can be 100% secure, but Follow My Vote is trying to offer an alternative solution to voting machines, and redefine how we look at elections.