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University Student Body Mulls over Blockchain Voting System

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:45 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:45 PM

Students at West Virginia University (WVU) have proposed an innovative blockchain-based voting system for the university’s upcoming Student Government Association (SGA) elections.

The Student Government Association in WVU is currently debating the notion of using blockchain-based voting at polling stations as opposed to legacy voting machines, according to The Daily Anthenaeum, the student-run university newspaper.

The newly proposed voting system is based on an iPad application that would allow students to vote for the next President and Vice President of the Student body. Students running for the positions are expected to announce their candidacy on December.

The blockchain-based voting platform was proposed during an SGA meeting by two WVU students – Ankur Kumar and Ricky Kirkendall. The duo contend the SGA will save money by choosing to go with their plan instead of SGA’s annual method of renting voting machines for $18,000 every year. Kumar told the publication that his blockchain-based voting method would cost the SGA between $11,000 and $13,000.

Also read: Developer Readies Bitcoin-Based Voting Machine For 2016 Election

Emma Harrison, the SGA elections chair sees promise in the idea, although she notes it is still too early to implement the new voting system.

“It’s in the works and it’ll save a lot of money. We just need to get it tested to see if it works,” she said. She added that if the idea were approved, it’s likely to be implemented for the next elections.

The benefits of saving money and the innovative technology behind the idea, while being sought after, has its doubters. SGA advisor Daniel Brewster told the newspaper:

“I love the idea, I love the premise,” he said, before adding, “but I find something a little unethical about someone who is going to vote in the election being responsible for the coding of the results of the election.”

In the meantime, Kumar assured the publication that WVU IT services would examine the code to ensure there is no backdoor before its potential approval. Deeming it as a tamper-proof idea, Kumar said:

Votes that are entered in the blockchain can never be altered or deleted by us – the coders – (or) by a University administrator or by a student.

“It is physically impossible to do that unless you control 51 percent of the world’s Bitcoin servers. That would be almost like controlling two countries’ data centers,” he added.

Featured image from Wikimedia.