The news follows weeks of speculation amid a surge in transactions on Zcoin’s blockchain with only a small hint issued by the team as to what was going on. The news is an impressive feat for Zcoin and a major milestone for blockchain-based voting in general, considering the range of criticisms that blockchain voting has received and its application on only a small scale so far.
A Successful Real-World Application of Blockchain Voting
From November 1st to November 9th, Zcoin quietly held Thailand’s Democrat Party primary election on their blockchain, accounting for 127,479 votes and legitimately finalizing the results within twelve hours to elect the party leader.
Most previous applications of blockchain-based e-voting systems have occurred on a much smaller scale. One such test was with West Virginia’s recent primary during the mid-terms with Voatz. However, their application had a limited take-up rate and occurred on a much smaller scale than Zcoin’s Thailand primary election.
Voting on the Zcoin blockchain for the primary took place using two methods that were agreed upon by the participating entities in the election:
- Nationwide Voting Systems Using a Raspberry Pi
- Mobile Voting App Called D-Elect (Required to Submit a Photo ID)
The election involved two sets of data:
- Identification Documents
- Voting Tallies
Notably, the data was encrypted and stored via the distributed storage system IPFS with the hash fingerprints of the datasets stored on the Zcoin blockchain. Voter tallies and identification were encrypted using Shamir’s Secret Sharing Scheme, allowing voter privacy to be protected.
Decrypting the datasets required the agreement of all the stakeholders that participated in the election, which were the Thai Election Officials. Zcoin is researching several methods for improving voter privacy such as with zero-knowledge proofs that afford anonymous but verifiable voting.
Just before the 2018 U.S. Midterm Elections, Alex Tapscott wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times about eventually transitioning to online voting. The piece was met was stiff resistance by academics, but Zcoin’s successful large-scale trial run should serve as more fuel to the blockchain-based e-voting debate.
Previous applications of blockchain voting focused on small-scale implementations. However, the proliferation of the underlying technology and further understanding of how to practically apply it has the potential to provide an improved voting system as demonstrated by Zcoin and Thailand’s recent primary election. Blockchain voting is definitely a topic worth exploring further.