Avoiding The Cheating Line: Election Security & The Blockchain.
Count me among the skeptics that former Vice President Biden will win the 2020 election by virtue of election fraud. I would need to see hard and substantial evidence before I even start leaning in that direction. President Trump, however, needs far less. He has filed two lawsuits and moved to intervene in a U.S. Supreme Court case on the basis of election fraud. His campaign has been no less eager to push a political message that the election has been stolen from him.
Don’t get me wrong. President Trump and his supporters have every right to question whether election fraud occurred even if it is an incredibly unpopular opinion. If I was in his position, I would undoubtedly turn to the courts to try to get some answers about the irregularities that occurred on Tuesday.
Irregularities, however, do not constitute fraud per se. Let’s bear in mind that this is 2020, and nothing has worked as it normally does. The circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic were inevitably going to create an irregular election process – one that anyone with an imagination could find any number of flaws without having to work to supply substantial proof. Then again, isn’t that every election cycle?
Every election, the political parties and their respective media allies feed us any number of lines about how the election process is rotten to the core. Cheating. Undemocratic. Nontransparent.
Call me tired of that load of natural fertilizer and tired of attempts to manipulate my commonsense for selfish political ends.
Let’s talk about a solution.
From 2013 through 2018, I was ears deep in the world of cryptocurrency, aka Bitcoin to the labelists among us. I have actively traded more coins than I can count. I have been scammed. Paypal slapped me with a lifetime ban. I have made money from cryptocurrency. I have lost money from my cryptocurrency ventures. I walked away from active trading with a profit. It’s a seedy world to put it lightly.
One thing stood out to me though. Regardless of whether you were scammed, hacked, or lost money, it was invariably your own fault. Cryptocurrency runs on something called the blockchain, which is basically a ledger connected by a cryptographical system based on interacting strings of numbers. Transactions are verifiable and irreversible – permanently encoded into that ledger. The operation of the system is public.
You, however, control the power to make your transactions through two keys. The first key is the public address of your cryptocurrency wallet. It is basically your identity on the blockchain and it looks something like this (feel free to donate Bitcoin :P):
The other key is commonly called your private key. It is a far longer string of numbers and letters that acts as the password to your power to make transactions from that wallet on the Blockchain. It is far longer and virtually impossible to figure out without knowing it. Thus, unless you or a platform that you select exposes your private key, you cannot be impersonated on the blockchain.
Back in 2014 when cryptocurrency was still a bit of a wild west, I was part of a loosely affiliated, global think tank buried deep in the “dark web” – the part of the internet that you can’t access through normal internet browsers or protocols. We explored more topics than I can enumerate here, but our favorite was every day uses for the blockchain. One of our European members suggested using it to hold elections.
Everyone in the think tank initially thought the European was insane. The largest cryptocurrency exchange that handled 70% of the world’s crypto transactions at the time, Mt. Gox, had been hacked, and traders lost an estimated $450 million at the time (today that number would be $12.1 billion). No one trusted the security of anything at that time, but Mt. Gox failed because of its own stupidity in failing to protects its data. The European persisted, and we gradually came around to the idea in theory at least because we were all conscious of where the blockchain’s real frailties lay.
Theories do become reality though. The 2020 election marks the first time that a U.S. presidential vote has been cast on a blockchain using a smartphone. Utah led the way. Its combination of biometrics and blockchain guarantees a fraud-free election, and it’s cheaper too. Most importantly, it will boost turnouts because it requires far less work.
The primary advantage of a blockchain voting system, however, is that the only way that fraud can be committed is by a voter’s stupidity in compromising his own system. His vote will be the only one that is compromised, unlike the allegations of thousands of compromised votes that are flying right now.
A blockchain system undoubtedly has its weaknesses, and I am thinking of income inequality to start. For every problem though, there is a solution. A bunch of purple-mohawk, weed-smoking rebels worked blockchains through their initial growing pains. Surely, the mature adults can solve the rest.
In conclusion, I am tired of hearing griping about cheating every election. It’s political manipulation. We now have a solution to end the manipulation. Every American should be clamoring for blockchain voting to end the assault on their common sense. Who wants to bet that the loudest complainers will also be the loudest voices opposing the adoption of blockchain as a method for voting?