Ohio proposal to establish blockchain voting pilot

Lawmakers in Ohio have tabled proposals that could pave the way for the introduction of blockchain voting, as part of measures designed to overhaul elections in the state.

Democrats in the state House of Representatives have suggested a pilot program powered by blockchain, which could initially be used by overseas military voters.

The bill, introduced on Tuesday, proposes that the Secretary of State Frank LaRose establishes the pilot scheme to explore applications of blockchain technology in the voting use case.

Introduced by Reps. Beth Liston and Michele Lepore-Hagan, the proposals say voters would transmit ballots via an encrypted blockchain, to ensure the system “protects the security and integrity of the process and protects the voter’s privacy.”

While no specific delivery partner was mentioned for the blockchain pilot, there are thought to be several firms in Ohio, such as Votem, capable of delivering the technology.

Similar systems have also been developed by firms including Voatz, which has been involved in similar pilots in Utah and West Virginia.

If established, the blockchain pilot would begin with overseas military personnel, before an eventual rollout of the system across voters in the state.

The proposals come at a time when blockchain voting is already under significant scrutiny, with security researchers in particular concerned about the security issues thrown up by voting on the blockchain.

In a letter to election officials published on April 9, the American Association for the Advancement of Science expressed its concerns about guaranteeing the “secrecy, security and verifiability” of this type of technology.

“Internet voting should not be used in the future until and unless very robust guarantees of security and verifiability are developed and in place, as no known technology guarantees the secrecy, security and verifiability of a marked ballot transmitted over the Internet.”

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