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How Blockchain Could Change the Way You Vote and Pay Taxes | Fast Forward

Published 2 years ago by Peter Hampton

How Blockchain Could Change the Way You Vote and Pay Taxes | Fast Forward

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Now anybody around the world can apply online to become a digital Estonian, accessing the same online platforms that the country’s physical economy is based on and the same online public services that domestic citizens can utilize (although, of course, only physical residents of Estonia can vote). Blockchain, a way of storing information about transactions that is secure, distributed, encrypted and unchangeable, has the power to transform the digital infrastructure behind everything from Wall Street trades and movie streaming to industrial supply chains — and now governments are getting in on the action.

While Estonia is leading the way and might just be the world’s first crypto-country, its government is far from the only one finding public-sector uses for blockchain. The UK government is trying out a system to pay benefits claimants via blockchain, and the Australian government is “throwing money at” ways to replace separate passport and birth certificate databases with a single blockchain-based system, says Dr. Clare Sullivan, a cyber-lawyer at Georgetown University.

And hopes are high that blockchain could soon enable other countries to join Estonia’s club of one that allows online voting in national elections — the holy grail of electoral reformists and govtech advocates worldwide. “Blockchain gives mathematically verifiable integrity of records,” says Artur Novek, an IT architect at Estonia’s Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, meaning that the system can immediately identify any unauthorized record tampering.

Should any inaccuracy make it onto the blockchain records, through error or fraud, “it’s there forever,” says Sullivan, which means the systems of verification that feed into the blockchain records (from doctors approving prescriptions to those issuing digital IDs) must be as perfect as the technology itself. Nick Spanos, CEO of VoteWatcher, a New York–based company integrating blockchain technology into the voting system, thinks that actual online voting via the blockchain is still a long way off — “the only way to convince people is if they believe in the cryptography.”.

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