Blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but that technology has far broader applications. Co-founder of Aussie startup Horizon State, Jamie Skella (@jamieskella) was recently on stage at Las Vegas at SAP TechEd and believes our (still ongoing) vote on same sex marriage should have cost $2 million, not $122 million and could have, if the Government used Blockchain to enable secure electronic voting.
After the debacle of the 2016 Census, where thousands of people tried to and couldn’t vote online, ABS managed to destroy any momentum of our country heading to a technology solution to replace the decades old (and dumb) approach of mailing out and collecting bits of paper to all of Australia.
Whenever the issue of voting electronically, online or through an app, is raised, the opponents always win because security is paramount in ensuring a legitimate outcome is achieved. If there was any ability to compromise the voting system used (many examples internationally) that confidence in the outcome would disintegrate.
To solve that, we need to rely on new technology and new cryptography applications to ensure that’s simply not possible. That there’s no central authority that exposes human flaws like weak passwords, or relies on poorly developed and vulnerable frameworks or simply bad implementations that mean compromises are possible. When voting on legislation that impacts peoples lives and in the case of federal and state elections, many billions of dollars at stake, the integrity of the vote is paramount.
Electronic voting is like driverless cars, you can’t replace the status quo with something equal to what we have today, you have to improve on it by a factor of ten. The system we have right now certainly isn’t perfect, but if electronic voting is to arrive in Australia, its technologies like blockchain that can be provably more secure than our paper ballot system, that we think of as solid, but actually has many points of weakness.
Regardless of the motivation (security or economics), the talk is definitely worth 13 minutes of your time.