In this article, we are going to explore decentralized voting systems and offer a dive deep into the top blockchain voting projects at present. This includes mobile apps and blockchain-based polling applications catering to public, private, and community organizations. Also, we evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of using decentralized voting systems and the probability of these becoming mainstream. Firstly, however, we begin exploring the fundamentals of decentralized voting systems and the differences between traditional and blockchain voting projects.
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Exploring Decentralized Voting Systems
Decentralized voting systems operate using blockchain, a cutting-edge form of distributed ledger technology (DLT). Since the launch of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2009, many other innovative blockchains have emerged. However, all blockchains feature the same general properties. This includes a decentralized network of computers (called nodes) collaboratively validating, managing, and storing transactional activities on the network. Using a combination of computer science, mathematics, and cryptography, blockchain transactions are immutable. Also, data and payment activities on public blockchains (such as Bitcoin) are fully transparent and secure with cryptographic anonymity. Blockchains are open-source development landscapes for anyone to design and deploy decentralized applications (dapps) and protocols.
As such, the technology is suitably apt for facilitating a decentralized voting system. Blockchain voting projects allow for a transparent, distributed democratic governance with the utmost security and validity. Moreover, the anonymity features mean blockchain voting projects are helpful in local boardroom settings and, theoretically, for mass-level electoral events. However, the underpinning technology of decentralized voting systems is in need of development before blockchain voting projects become mainstream. This being said, there are several existing projects that are paving the way for decentralized voting systems to become the go-to governance structure within social, political, and enterprise environments.
Traditional Voting vs. Decentralized Voting Systems
Legacy voting systems are often time-consuming, expensive, and require tremendous paperwork, potentially detrimental to the environment on a mass scale. Additionally, the multiple numbers of parties and labor involved in traditional voting add heavy overheads to local events. As a result, electronic voting machines have emerged as an eco-friendly solution. However, each machine is vulnerable to a single-point-of-failure (i.e., microchip tampering) and centralized manipulation (e.g., adjusting the electronic votes on a database). Plus, electronic voting machines don’t address the long queues during election times and the challenges of some voters reaching a polling station.
The solution lies with blockchain voting projects. Implementing decentralized voting systems ameliorates the chances of security breaches and the tampering of votes. Results are revealed to all parties involved simultaneously, with no covert operation managing the votes. Instead, votes are immutably stored on the blockchain with cryptographic security measures preventing the link between the voter and their vote.
Top Blockchain Voting Projects
Although the concept of “blockchain voting projects” is relatively new, there are a handful of emerging projects worldwide. Due to the immaturity and existing limitations in the industry, numerous blockchain voting projects are appearing, each slightly different, with the same overarching goal of decentralizing democratic polls and elections. However, as we discuss further on, there are common hurdles for blockchain voting projects to overcome before we see true mass adoption of decentralized voting systems. First, let’s explore some top blockchain voting projects, how they work, and how they contribute toward a more transparent future.
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International IT service provider Luxoft Holding, Inc, in partnership with the City of Zug and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, designed the first decentralized voting system to be used on a mass scale in a major economy. Luxoft founded the Government Alliance Blockchain to assist in the integration of blockchain in public institutions. Accordingly, Luxoft is a pioneer in blockchain voting projects creating the system software, algorithms, and entire voting platform on the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.
Additionally, Luxoft’s solution “e-Vote” incorporates features of the leading smart contract chain, Ethereum. In conjunction with the city of Zug’s digital ID registration application and custom identity platform uPort, Swiss residents can cast electoral votes on the blockchain! Plus, e-Vote assures its users of public security audits, tamper-proof tallying, and anonymity for voters.
Powered by Kaspersky Lab, Kaspersky Innovation Hub presents Polys – a software and hardware solutions provider for electronic voting. The platform is open-source and operates transparently, catering to a range of services. As one of the top blockchain voting projects, Polys facilitates a cloud-based solution, blockchain voting machine terminals, alongside offering maintenance and customer services. All votes cast in an election on Polys, regardless of whether it was via a smartphone or terminal, will remain immutable on the blockchain. Plus, Polys can collate votes from various devices and terminals for the same poll.
Polys’ mission is to reduce the overheads and time inefficiencies with legacy voting systems. Moreover, Polys allows local authorities and organizations to have more time to prepare proposals to win the heart of voters. As such, it’s no surprise Polys is a top blockchain voting project for use with student unions, councils, and associations. According to Polys’ website, incorporating decentralized voting systems improves communication between leaders and productivity within a community.
When evaluating the top blockchain voting projects, Agora must make the list. Founded in 2015, Agora is a leading platform “bringing voting systems into the digital age”. Blending innovative aspects of blockchain and other decentralized technologies, Agora is the first blockchain voting project used in a presidential election. Introduced in March 2018 in the Sierra Leone presidential campaign, the Agora ecosystem reduces polling fraud and overheads. Agora uses a custom blockchain with unique security and consensus features applicable to community, public, and private organizations. The blockchain voting project incorporates a native token for users to cast votes.
The Agora decentralized voting system uses a consensus model specific for voting without any financial incentive. Also, the Agora ecosystem offers its clients (communities, institutions, governments, etc.) the choice of permissioned or permissionless infrastructure. With a reputation for catering to individual client needs, Agora assists in the organization and management of an election poll and results. Plus, the Agora ecosystem includes dapps for tracking ballots, election financials, and staff movements.
Follow My Vote
Next on our list of “top blockchain voting projects” is Follow My Vote (FMV). FMV is a blockchain solutions platform that primarily offers a decentralized voting system. After launching a crowdfunding campaign to yield funds for the development of open-source blockchain voting software, FMV launched Pollaris. Named after the guiding star ‘Polaris’, the next-generation polling application is FMV’s foundation for blockchain voting solutions.
In a Follow My Vote (FMV) blog post, the project outlines its mission and aims for Pollaris. The decentralized voting system is completely open-source, with the team encouraging developers worldwide to inspect and modify the code. Furthermore, Pollaris is a testing ground for future applications and design principles to cater to the needs of varying demographics. The application offers real-time insights into democratic development for campaign managers alongside transparent ballot box-checking abilities for voters. Additionally, Pollaris is useful for organizations to gather insights into member or market sentiment.
Finally, our “top blockchain voting projects” list would not be complete without Voatz, a leading mobile decentralized voting system intertwining biometric authentication. Voatz is a mobile-first ballot application incorporating blockchain technology for security, transparency, and immutability of votes. Plus, Voatz offers its members a blockchain-based audit portal and administrative dashboard, offering real-time analytical insights on mobile or tablet devices. As such, Voatz is a popular choice for secure, anonymous, and remote voting from anywhere in the world.
Users must register with a selfie image and bio-authentication details (i.e., FaceID or fingerprint) before becoming eligible to vote. After confirmation, users can enter the app to view any relevant polls. Then, users can mark, review, and submit their votes using existing biometric data or a secure PIN. Afterward, voters will receive an anonymized receipt. This will allow voters to verify their selection. Additionally, receipts may be used in a post-election audit within local jurisdictions.
Pros and Cons of Decentralized Voting Systems
There are several benefits to governments introducing decentralized voting systems on a mass scale. As the recent Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated, physical election events are not always possible to host due to reasons beyond voters’ control. Also, legacy election events often generate large queues towards the closing hours of a poll. Crowds of people can prevent a significant minority of potential voters from turning out to the event. Opting to use an online alternative voting system will be more convenient for voters and likely yield higher turnouts than in-person events. Particularly, online voting systems will benefit parents of young children, shift workers, and people with disabilities.
Existing electronic voting machines are vulnerable to manipulation and a single-point-of-failure. Conversely, blockchain votes are immutable, cryptographically secure, and anonymized. Also, blockchain voting projects are substantially faster and more cost-efficient than legacy voting systems. Plus, blockchain adds the feature of transparency, not trust, that is typical in traditional voting events.
On the other hand, the technology powering these blockchain voting projects is still young. The industry notoriously faces the “blockchain trilemma,”; a challenge surrounding the scalability of a project without compromising on security or decentralization. As of yet, there is no decentralized voting system that is fast or cheap enough to cater to the mass population. Another consideration is the energy efficiency of blockchain operations, alongside the awareness and acceptableness of blockchain voting. Some blockchains expend copious amounts of energy. However, newer innovative consensus models can drastically reduce by over 99%.
As a niche technology, there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding blockchain. For blockchain voting projects to become mainstream, it will require an effective marketing and public relations (PR) campaign to educate local communities on the benefits of decentralized voting systems.
Exploring Top Blockchain Voting Projects Summary
Decentralized voting systems are becoming a hot topic of conversation. Although the industry is still young, many top blockchain voting projects are seeking innovative ways to integrate this cutting-edge technology into democratic communities. Further, there are many benefits to using blockchain voting projects. This includes a reduction in the time and cost expenditure of traditional elections. Also, decentralized voting systems can provide a more eco-friendly polling process. Additionally, the transparency and immutability of votes may improve voter sentiment and turn-out.
Our list of top blockchain voting projects are pioneers in the evolution of democratic societies. However, the blockchain industry as a whole needs to improve on scalability solutions before decentralized voting systems become commonplace worldwide. Moreover, the everyday Joe needs to be familiar with the benefits and fundamentals of blockchain. Getting to this stage requires education in new and evolving technologies. For the best online place to learn about all things Web3 and blockchain, check out Moralis Academy! For example, our Master DeFi in 2022 course is perfect for newcomers to safely interact and experiment with Ethereum DeFi protocols!
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