Friday, February 28, 2020
Polys, a project from the Kaspersky Innovation Hub that develops a secure online voting platform for businesses, universities, etc., has unveiled a prototype of its new Polys Voting Machine. The device is the first of its kind to incorporate blockchain technologies while working alongside the Polys online election system. In doing so, all votes, whether cast at polling stations or on personal smart devices, are transmitted and processed in a secure way allowing election participants to choose how they vote while still ensuring privacy.
Online voting brings a number of benefits to organizers and participants during an election including the ability to vote remotely, automatically calculate results, ease logistical challenges and provide centralized process management. However, online voting can create a barrier for those who are not routine users of smart devices, or those who simply prefer casting their vote in person at a polling station. Another challenge is enabling a secret ballot without revealing a person’s decision while still providing the ability for voters to check if their votes were counted.
To combat these issues, the Polys Voting Machine was created to work on distributed ledger technology meaning all voter information is stored in a decentralized manner on several blockchain nodes. The vote organizer can choose several computers on which to store this data minimizing the chances of vote tampering as malefactors would have to breach all computers in order to manipulate the results.
To use a Polys Voting Machine, voters would need to authenticate themselves with the appropriate documents to prove their identity. Next they would receive a unique QR code (or other token), which is not known by anyone except the voter. After scanning the code with a special device, he or she can then select a voting option on the machine. Using this QR code, an individual can also check via a special web application that his or her vote was registered in the blockchain, however their name and voting choice will not be stored in the blockchain to protect their privacy.
An access code can also be associated to an election in a specific area. This means that when voting, the voter is only shown representatives for their local election even if they are at a polling station located in another region. To allow audits and recounts, a special Polys Printer can be connected to a distributed ledger providing an accurate paper trail. This device would be located at the head office of the regional election team and would issue a paper ballot once a voting decision is made.
The voting machines can also be interconnected with the Polys online voting platform across a single blockchain system meaning they share one voter register, eliminating the possibility of a voter casting his or her vote twice. As a result, tech-savvy users can vote securely from their smart device using the online version, while those who prefer to visit the polling station can cast their votes on a physical Polys Voting Machine. No matter which option voters use, all votes will be automatically encrypted and counted.
Using the Polys Voting Machine’s automatic count function, staff and resource costs will be reduced for organizers. It also allows for more efficient election results once an election period has closed.
“From speaking to our customers, we understand the issues and inconvenience they face when organizing paper-based voting,” commented Roman Aleshkin, head of product at Polys. “As we see from our Polys platform, e-voting can solve some of these issues, allowing more possibilities for remote participation and even increasing turnout of younger voters. However, if physical polling stations were to be closed completely, it would deprive and alienate certain groups of people from taking part in an election and making their voice heard. That is why we introduced our new voting machines. Working together with the online platform, they allow citizens to vote using the method they prefer, in a convenient and transparent way.”
With these prototypes, the company is able to offer the possibility of developing bespoke solutions and devices based on the Polys platform to fit specific needs and requirements of a variety of voting systems.
To learn more about the Polys Voting Machines as well as how to request a demo, please visit the official website.