Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has unveiled a prototype of a new voting machine with blockchain technology that works alongside an online election system so that all votes – whether cast at polling stations or on personal devices – are transmitted and processed together in a secure way. Polys, a project from the Kaspersky Innovation Hub developing a secure online voting platform for businesses, universities and political parties, unveiled a prototype of its new Polys Voting Machine.
“As we see from our Polys platform, e-voting allows more possibilities for remote participation and even increasing turnout of younger people,” Roman Aleshkin, head of product at Polys, said in a statement.
Online voting brings a number of benefits, like the ability to vote remotely; automatically calculate results; ease logistical challenges, and provide centralized process management.
This gives election participants a choice of how to vote, whilst ensuring election organisers can introduce a secure online voting option with guaranteed privacy.
The Polys Voting Machine has been created to work on distributed ledger technology. This means that all vote information is stored in a decentralized manner on several blockchain nodes.
This is how it works
- To use one of the machines, voters would need to authenticate themselves with documents to prove their identity.
- They would receive a unique QR code (or another token), which is not known by anyone except for the voter.
- After scanning it with a special device, he or she can select an option on a display on the Polys Voting Machine.
- Via this QR code, a person can also check on a special web application that his or her vote was registered in the blockchain, but their name and choice will not be stored in the blockchain, to prevent tracing it to a specific individual.
- An access code can also be associated with an election in a specific area, said the company.
This means that when voting, the citizen is only shown representatives for their local election even if they are at a polling station located in another region. To allow audits and recounts, a special Polys Printer can be connected to this distributed ledger providing an accurate paper trail.
This device is located at the head office of the regional election team and issues a paper ballot once a decision is made. The voting machines can be interconnected with the Polys online voting platform across a single blockchain system.
“This means they share one voter register which eliminates the possibility of a voter casting his or her vote twice, using different options,” the company added.
As a result, tech-savvy users can vote securely from their smartphone or device using the online version, while those who prefer to visit the polling station can cast their votes on a Polys Voting Machine – with all votes automatically encrypted and counted.
However, moving to vote online can pose a barrier for people who are not habitual users of smartphones or laptops, or those who simply prefer casting their vote in person at a polling station.
Another challenge is enabling a secret ballot to happen without revealing a person’s decision, whilst at the same time providing the ability for voters to check if their votes were counted, said the company.