Richard Holden, a professor of economics at the University of New South Wales Business School, says the use of distributed registration technology could allay Republican concerns about voter fraud by mail, but it would likely benefit the Democratic Party.
Holden spoke at the Unitize conference on July 9 on Blockchain Law and Economics. The university professor said distributed registration technology (DLT) has the potential to increase voter participation and have a „significant effect“ on the outcome of the U.S. election, but there are still problems surrounding the overall integrity of the process.
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The UNSW professor cited Republican demands against the mail vote, which Democrats believe will increase voter participation. The results of Holden’s own study, conducted with a colleague in Massachusetts, found that in populations where there was lower cost of voter registration and turnout (i.e., it was easier to vote) tended to mean the addition of new left-leaning voters.
„Distributed registration technology could be an interesting defense against the idea of voter fraud by mail,“ Holden said. „But the DLT could, in principle, be even more immune to such considerations. So it’s going to play a very important role in the future because it has a potential political bias, not by intention, but just by implication.
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However, a 2018 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine says blockchain technology „does little to address the fundamental security issues of elections“ and introduces „additional security vulnerabilities. The group stated that malware installed on a voter’s device had the potential to disrupt a vote before it reached the blockchain.
Although Holden noted that Bitcoin Evolution voting was used in West Virginia during the 2018 mid-term elections, he did not mention that local authorities returned to more traditional voting methods after a security audit by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2020. Its report revealed „vulnerabilities that allow different types of opponents to alter, stop or expose a user’s vote.
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The economics professor said the issue was a loaded one that would probably create a change, but one way or another, „the election law will have to adapt.