South Korea Is Trialing Blockchain Voting — Here’s What That Means
South Korea will test out a new blockchain voting system this month, sources close to the developments have confirmed to Bitcoin Magazine. Developed by the country’s National Election Commission (NEC) and its Ministry of Science and ICT, the distributed ledger system is based on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric and will be used to authenticate voters and save voting results in real time.
South Korean officials believe a blockchain voting system will increase both security and transparency, thereby improving people’s trust in digital voting. The NEC initially ran an online voting system dubbed “K-voting” back in 2013, but, despite 5.64 million users, trust remained low due to fraud and hacking concerns.
The system will be trialed in the private sector by Handysoft Consortium, which provides collaboration systems for smart work environments. The NEC says the trial is a pilot test designed to determine the viability of blockchain technology, wherein a small sample of users will use the pilot to answer a questionnaire.
With the pilot, the voting system will be used to gather responses from surveys issued by the Korea Internet and Security Agency — the region’s official internet content watchdog — on user experience, including satisfaction among trial participants. Their personal information is then collected from the user group administrator and uploaded directly to the blockchain system, where it is stored for the next seven days before being deleted.
The NEC says the plan is to eventually introduce the blockchain online voting system in democratic elections through a step-by-step pilot operation that will check the safety and stability of the system. The introduction of the voting platform into public official elections like National Assembly elections, local elections or presidential elections will be a policy decision made via the nation’s legislative branch.
Should legislation move forward, users will be able to cast their votes in the future using either their personal computers or mobile phones instead of in-person or by mail. Data recorded during the elections will be saved to the distributed network, so voters can see the progress of the elections as more votes are cast.
The NEC is confident the system will eliminate the possibilities of hacking and voter fraud. In addition, the organization says it will also add elements like big data, internet of things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence (AI), granted the system proves popular enough.
South Korea is not the first nation to experiment with blockchain voting. Japan’s city of Tsukuba became the first area to experiment with the technology for voting purposes back in September of 2018. Voters’ identities were verified utilizing the Japanese equivalent of social security cards. From there, accounts were created for citizens wishing to vote on what the Japan Times called “social contribution projects.”
Unfortunately, the system was not without its problems. Many voters reported forgetting their login passwords and being unable to cast their votes within the appropriate timeframes. Furthermore, there was little clarity offered once a vote was cast on whether it had been counted.
West Virginia also experimented with blockchain voting during the 2018 midterm elections. Designed by mobile voting platform Voatz, the system was designed for American troops serving overseas who wished to cast their votes in the November federal elections. Voatz used facial-recognition software to match voters’ faces to their government-issued ID cards. From there, troop members could ultimately cast their ballots, which were then anonymized and recorded via the blockchain.