As a man of color, it does not escape me how important it is for me to cast my vote each election cycle.
However, voting has been a tricky topic in the U.S. from voter fraud, access to polls and gerrymandering.
This is where blockchain can step in to provide transparency and access to a system that has yet to go through a major modernization.
In this article, I will touch on three areas where blockchain can help improve our electoral process.
#1 – Time to Vote
A big challenge facing voters over 50 years ago when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting rights act of 1965 still plagues us today.
When I say time, I literally mean just that – time.
There was study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012 for the presidential election which showed only 48% of households with income under $20,000 voted, while 78% of households over $475,000 cast their ballots.
Do wealthier people care more about the country?
Should the citizens facing real financial hardship display more passion for change?
These are all logical questions, that unfortunately are not so simply answered and display a lack of understanding for the challenges faced by millions of hard working Americans every day.
We hold our elections on Tuesdays, which is right in the middle of the work week. If you are an hourly worker, you do not have the luxury of losing pay as you are already barely holding things together.
Also, the cost to get to and from the polls could create additional hardship.
This is where Blockchain comes in to help.
Blockchain could offer the voters the ability to cast their vote on their way to work, at work or on their way home.
Sounds far fetch? Well Spain-headquartered Santander became the first company to use blockchain technology for investor reporting on May 17th.
Why should we allow people the right to vote remotely, well over 28% of households that did not vote stated that voting taking place on Tuesday prevents them from hitting the polls.
This 28% represents millions of unheard voices.
#2 – Voter ID requirements
Voting ID laws have been on the books since the 1950s. However, the laws were less about a picture ID and only required voters to have any document with their name included.
This has now progressed into a full blown political issue to fight potential voter fraud, while study after study has shown this fraud cry is greatly exaggerated.
However, regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, voting integrity is paramount to our democracy.
Again, blockchain to the rescue.
There are multiple methods to address this issue, such as the great work by the Learning Machine and the MIT Media Lab who are working on a collaborative project to issue official records using blockchain.
These official records could range from certificates to proof of membership.
The great thing is the technology could allow state and local agencies the ability to provide voting credentials.
Best of all, the credential could be delivered to you directly via a mobile app.
The creation and delivery of these credentials would be a fraction of the costs required to obtain voter identification cards.
A Harvard study concluded the expenses for documentation, travel and waiting time to obtain the card could range from $75 to $175 dollars. Again, remember these are households making less than $20,000 per year.
Blockchain could solve both the voter fraud concern and the lack of access many minority groups have raised concerns about in recent years.
Turnout for Presidential elections in the U.S. has historically peaked at the 60% level and bottoms around 50%. This range has been in place since 1916.
More alarming, mid-term election turnout in 2014 hit a 70-year low of 35.9%.
How do we increase the turnout?
Building upon the ability of blockchain to authenticate your credentials, you could use the same valid account to cast your vote remotely.
The folks over at Follow My Vote are truly doing God’s work.
Their system is built using blockchain technology and not only allows you to cast your vote, but also follow that vote through the entire submission and tabulation process.
No longer do you have to sit and wonder if your electronic submission or voting punch card safely made it to its destination.
No longer do you have to guess if the local voting center properly counted and reported your results.
While I love humans, some things are best when we remove ourselves from the equation.
We have the process, people and technology with blockchain’s help to make a real difference in our democracy. Regardless of your party affiliation, let’s strive to reach a place where every vote counts.