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Waves Enterprise Announces Public Release Of Its Blockchain Voting System

Waves Enterprise has announced the public release of its blockchain voting system, aimed at corporations and board governance.

It has been reported that the Waves system uses blockchain at every step of the voting process, as votes are recorded and then counted with full cryptographic guarantees.

However, homomorphic encryption is used to accurately tally votes without having to reveal the identity of the person who cast each ballot.

We are launching a blockchain service for online voting – If you've been following our news, you might know that the service has been in beta for almost six months, and today we are proud to announce its official launch. — Waves Enterprise (@wvsenterprise) November 18, 2020

The report said that while the system is primarily targeted for lower stakes environments such as corporate boards, the technology has recently been trialed in Russia during its local and parliamentary elections.

The team says that the experience showed the platform is ready for deployment, but the public product is somewhat different from the one used in Russia.

Artem Kalikhov, the Chief Product Officer of Waves, said:

“Those elections used a voting system developed in cooperation with Rostelekom […], which is based on a similar cryptographic protocol but has several important distinctions. For example, it uses Russian cryptography, it has different mechanisms for identification and anonymization, [and] the voting process is changed.”

Likewise, Kalikhov said that though authorities in Brazil are also exploring a potential implementation of blockchain voting, the current product is meant for corporate settings and board voting, a market estimated by Waves to be worth $100 million globally.

It has been analyzed that having different target clients helped make the platform more accessible to the public. During the Russian elections, the platform was criticized by some for the inability of external parties to connect and verify the blockchain nodes.

Waves spin-off @wvsenterprise is releasing its #blockchain voting platform for corporations after successful trials in Russian elections, @shvandrew reports. — Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) November 18, 2020

Kalikhov said that the commercial version runs on Waves Enterprise Mainnet, a permissioned but public blockchain.

Also, the platform uses a variety of techniques to prevent fraud in the processes of voting and vote tallying.

Kalikhov further said that the use of blockchain and cryptographic signing of transactions ensures the vote will not be changed or deleted after being saved on the ledger.

He added:

“The use of homomorphic encryption allows to automatically collect the results of the election without decrypting each individual ballot, guaranteeing the privacy of the vote. Using a distributed key generation protocol and several independent encryption servers excludes the possibility of a single actor with a ‘master key’ and guarantees that no one is able to decrypt the results or look into single ballots before the vote has ended.”

Moreover, the combination of cryptographic techniques, blockchain, and a system of checks and balances aims to minimize the possibility of fraud during the election process. Nonetheless, the use of blockchain does not exclude bugs or potential backdoors, as some other platforms showed.

The platform is still only as strong as the voter registration process by assuming that the election system is solid.

Kalikhov said that voters are registered through a system of public and private keys, as smart contracts hold a registry of all valid voters through their public keys, while each private key remains on their personal devices. To defend against insincere voting, the system allows voters to change their preference at any point before the election is over.

He noted:

“But the system cannot, of course, protect the users’ personal devices from hacks, loss or key transfers initiated by the user. While the voting software is built to ensure the safety of the private keys, users must still follow the rules of cyber hygiene — using antivirus software and installing the latest operating system updates.”

He added that in the future, the team is planning to implement technologies that could certify the identity of each user.

Thus, in corporate settings, the current solution could be sufficient; fraud involving extra ballots is probably easier to notice in non-governmental elections.

Source: Cointelegraph



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