The platform uses blockchain, homomorphic encryption and cryptographic techniques to prevent fraud in the processes of voting and vote tallying
The business-focused spin-off of the Waves project, Waves Enterprise, has announced the public release of its blockchain-based voting system targeted at low stake environments like corporations and board governances.
The system uses blockchain technology at every step of the process from the voting itself to recording and counting of votes with a cryptographic guarantee. It uses homomorphic encryption to automatically collect the results of the election without decrypting each individual ballot and thus guaranteeing the privacy of the vote.
The reliability and security issues arising from the use of blockchain technology for conducting nationwide elections are currently being explored. Meanwhile, Waves’ technology was recently used on a trial basis in Russia’s local and parliamentary elections.
The company explained that the public product is different from the one used in Russia in terms of the mechanisms used for identification and anonymisation. However, the Russian experience was crucial in establishing the readiness of the platform, it added. Chief Product Officer Artem Kalikhov stated that authorities in Brazil were also exploring the use of blockchain voting.
The product, meant for corporate settings, is estimated by Waves to be worth over $100 million. Kalikhov explained that the commercial version runs on Waves Enterprise mainnet, a permissioned but public blockchain. The use of blockchain and cryptographic signing of transactions is key to ensure that votes will not be changed or deleted after being saved on the ledger, Kalikhov stated.
“Using a distributed key generation protocol and several independent encryption servers excludes the possibility of a single actor with a ‘master key’ and guarantees that no one is able to decrypt the results or look into single ballots before the vote has ended”, he explained.
Though the combination of cryptographic mechanisms, blockchain and a system of checks and balances can minimise the possibility of fraud, it is key to note that an election system is only as strong as its voter registration process.
Kalikhov stated that the platform uses a combination of public and private keys to register voters. It also allows voters to change their preference at any point before the election is over to avoid insincere voting, he explained.
However, the system “cannot, of course, protect the users’ personal devices from hacks, loss or key transfers initiated by the user”, Kalikhov noted. It is important for users to “follow the rules of cyber hygiene — using antivirus software and installing the latest operating system updates”, he added.
Waves Enterprise plans to introduce features that could certify the identity of each user in the future. Nevertheless, the present system is capable of handling non-governmental elections where extra ballots are easier to notice, Kalikhov stated.
Written by Harshini Nag