Research, a blockchain-based online election platform that can effectively prevent fraud

‘Blockchain’, an advanced data storage technology that has been reconditioned as a tool to support direct democracy. The use of ‘blockchain’ in supporting elections is considered a tendency or trend of the era. Currently, there are many countries that use it.

For Thailand, recently, a research team from Thammasat University by the Office of Business Incubation Center and Intellectual Property has invented, developed, and designed to adopt blockchain technology in election process under the project, “Online Election System Using Blockchain via”, which has been piloted and becoming a compelling social innovation.

In terms of development, Thammasat started the “Online Election System Using Blockchain via” back in 2017 under the budget from the Department of Physical Education. It later has been progressively improved and officially piloted for actual usage in the ‘Surat Thani Public Health Saving and Credit Cooperative Committee’ 2019 election.

Thammasat has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Surat Thani Public Health Saving and Credit Cooperative Limited to organize elections of the chairperson of the committee, committee, and auditors through the first blockchain-based online election system which is continuously adopted every year.

“With the largeness in size of the province having nearly 30 polling stations scattered around with some on islands, this projects difficulties and huge budget on management and organizing elections each year, and that some members of the cooperative are medical personnel who were unable to vote at the polling station in time. Cooperative executives therefore, collaborate with Thammasat University to develop a blockchain-based online voting system that cooperative members can use to vote conveniently. The vote counting is accurate, fast and reliable,” said Prof. Dr. Anat Limakdet, Director of the Center of Intellectual Property and Business Incubation and a member of the research team mentioned about spatial limitations in the past.

Prof. Dr. Anant went on to say that the election system is an innovation that is distinctive to conventional electronic election systems, which is mostly centralized. This may lead to doubts on safety and transparency. The system may be hacked and targeted by outside parties, and system administrator or central administration may access the voting database which can cause distortion in the election results.

However, the election system is blockchain-based. The data is therefore encrypted and stored in a distributed database on a public blockchain. Data stored in each node once accepted by the network cannot be altered which makes the data to be highly secured and reliable. The distributed data storage on blockchain does not require a middleman.

“Blockchain-based elections will help reduce the problem of hacking occurred on the election system which consequently prevent interference in election results, including confidentiality of voters’ profile and voting information thus, helps eliminate issues of delays and errors in vote counting, increase convenience and save costs for both the election organizing agency and the voters,” explained Prof. Dr. Anant.

The success leads to the expansion of application to other elections. In the past, Thammasat has organized online elections through for various savings cooperative groups such as Surat Thani Public Health Saving and Credit Cooperatives Limited, Ministry of Justice Saving and Credit Cooperative Limited, the Communications Authority of Thailand Saving and Credit Cooperative and The Saving co-operatives limited of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives.

To the extent of the election process, it is all controlled through a program on the blockchain which has predetermined information on voters, candidates, start and end times of the election. When voting day arrives, the system will function automatically and eligible people can use their smartphones or notebooks to vote through the website. Each individual can verify their identities prior to voting in various ways, such as using a pre-set-up password or confirming with an OTP from your registered phone number, including identity verification with ID card and facial recognition. When election time ends, the system automatically shuts down. Once the information stored on the blockchain is complete, results can be announced in less than 15 minutes.

The “Online Election System on Blockchain via” project is considered a social innovation of Thailand. Recently, it just won an honorable mention award from the Democratic Innovation Contest 2023 of the Secretariat of the House of Representatives.

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