Blockchain technology will not be used in today’s Bundestag elections. But will it perhaps be in 2021?
Today are Bundestag elections and we will all vote, if we go to vote, in the way we have always done – circles on a piece of paper will be marked and the pieces of paper will be counted again later by hand. PC software from the 1990s is then used for electronic transmission, in the hope that cyber attacks will not succeed.
Now there are certainly some intermediate steps between the status quo and the blockchain voting using digital signatures or tokens – a look at what blockchain voting could look like will nevertheless be taken in the following.
The core characteristics of the blockchain – transparency, decentralisation, peer-to-peer connections, no hierarchies and protection against manipulation – can lead to the development of digital Bitcoin news voting concepts. Finally, the problem with existing e-voting systems, which are computer-supported, is that they are susceptible to manipulation. In Germany, for example, the Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that digital elections do not meet the requirement of traceability (BVerfGE 123,39) and are therefore inadmissible for official elections. A more secure IT infrastructure, such as the blockchain technology can provide, could therefore be taken as an opportunity to modernise the legal guidelines for computer-assisted elections.
Although voting in Germany cannot be affected by cyber attacks, the electronic interfaces in the transfer of results can. As reported in detail in the last few days, the common voting software „PC-Wahl“ was hacked by the simplest measures. So the need to renew the IT software is certainly there – so why not directly count votes via a blockchain directory that can’t be changed „just now“?
Various concepts are currently being discussed under the term blockchain voting. A possible option would be to issue each eligible Bitcoin news with a token (based on a crypto coin) that can be used to select the preferred candidate. All votes would be recorded and confirmed in the Bitcoin news blockchain, so that the counting of the ballots by hand can be dispensed with.
Human errors or attempts at manipulation can thus be practically ruled out. Especially in countries where elections are overshadowed by electoral fraud, blockchain voting solutions are ideal to circumvent loss-making or corrupt authorities or government officials.
Blockchain voting is also supported by the European Parliament. A discussion paper of the European Parliamentary Research Service emphasizes the advantages of blockchain technology and points out that blockchain-based e-voting systems can also increase voter turnout.
In fact, blockchain solutions for voting procedures already exist. With the KSI blockchain, the company Guardtime provides an already used option for cryptographically recording „authority and voting transactions“. You can find out how this works in more detail in our video report Bitcoin and Blockchain in Europe, where we spoke to Guardtime on site in Tallinn.
Bundestag elections 2021 – A case for the Blockchain?
Despite all optimism, it is very likely that no blockchain technology will be used in Germany for the 2021 federal elections. Experience shows that a long time elapses before innovations are adopted by the authorities and the legal framework is created.
In part, the slow actions of the authorities can certainly be excused; after all, Bundestag elections should not be used as an experimental field. Nevertheless, more digitalisation can and must be expected of Germany. Countries such as Estonia show that the term e-government is not only used to fill gaps in party programmes. E-government can be presented and blockchain can be part of this digital administrative transformation.
The Blockchain Bundesverband Bundesblock, which was founded just a few months ago, gives hope here. It seeks dialogue with politicians and demands, for example, that a public register be tested in Germany on the basis of blockchain technology by 2020 – so there is hope.