How can Bitcoin ensure fair and transparent elections?

Published by Donald Mulders on December 11, 2020

Dear Michael Hudson,

Since we have never spoken to each other in the offline world, I will start by introducing myself. My name is Donald Mulders and I am active within the SV ecosystem as an entrepreneur, but most foremost, as a great enthusiast. In this capacity, I have followed you, and your “mission” Bitstocks closely. I would like to express my appreciation for how you help in sharing the true story of Bitcoin to a wider audience with high quality and informative media.

Having said that, let's move on to the subject matter. In response to the recent Bitstocks media video (Bitstocks Sight Series - Episode 10) about voter fraud around the US election, I would like to invite you to exchange thoughts about how Bitcoin could help to ensure fair and transparent elections. In you video, you argue that Bitcoin as more a secure and transparent technology could have prevented potential fraud, or at least dispel any suspicion. Although I am a strong supporter of Bitcoin's fraud prevention applications, for the sake of discussion I would like to take the opposite position. That is, to have fair elections we do not need to introduce more technology but need to remove technology from the election process altogether.

Voter secrecy

One of the cornerstone principles of free and open elections is the ability not to disclose to whom you have cast your vote, also known as voter secrecy. This is to prevent any kind of coercion, whether it is because of social pressure from friends or family, or a more malicious kind of coercion. This is why it is important not to have any evidence trails that could connect your identity to your vote. This principle is very hard to achieve using technology, especially when connected to the internet.

Manipulation of votes

A big concern of introducing computers into the election process, be it casting or counting the votes, is that it increases the possibility of potential manipulation. In case a voting computer alters the input of votes cast, whether this is by malicious actors or human error when programming, the input of votes to the machine are altered, it makes it difficult to audit afterward. When using paper ballets, you always have the option to have votes recounted if when in doubt about the integrity of the count. Also, it is very difficult to monitor and audit all computers on internal computations without infringing on the secrecy of the ballot. Voter secrecy and the ability to audit the integrity of the vote are two of the concerns why I am not a proponent of introducing technology into the election process.

Potential for bitcoin technology

Where I do see the potential for bitcoin technology in the voting process is identical. Through identity, it can be established whether a person is eligible to vote in the election and whether this person has cast a vote. This could prevent people from casting more than one vote at different locations. Of course, this requires that identity be registered on the blockchain by trusted institutions and that the ledger within the election is accepted as the single source of truth. Another advantage of registering votes cast is that you can compare them afterward with the total of votes counted. This will contribute to transparency and the trust of the process.

I would like to learn about your counter-arguments how and why Bitcoin could improve the fairness and transparency of elections.

Best regards and much respect,


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