Did Russia Hack our Elections? NY Lost 126,000 Voter Records! The Case for Blockchain Technology

Article By: Clyde Vanel, NYS Assemblyman, D. 33

Since the United States presidential election in 2016, there remains uncertainty on whether Russians hacked into our various state boards of elections. In the same year in New York, 126,000 registered voters were found to be missing from the election rolls. Furthermore, in New York State, over the past few years, there have been countless complaints about voter registration information and status being changed or altered.

Even a blind man can see that we need better solutions. State and county Boards of elections must be accountable and transparent. We must explore more efficient methods to record, store and alter data and information. We must make it easier to vote- while at the same time securing and providing an incorruptible process.

The hallmarks of a good election system are recordkeeping, data transfer and data maintenance. The electorate must have confidence in the system. Before people can vote, there must be properly maintained records of the eligible registered voters. For example, a person’s voter information changes over time. Their name may change; they may move; they may change parties; they may vote in some elections and miss others. The changes in information must be properly maintained.

The better that we use, store and secure voter information the better system we will have. In today’s world, governments and municipalities cannot afford to use substandard technology to protect information. We should explore the use of blockchain technology with elections.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block of information contains a pointer to the previous block of information that represents a transaction of data. By design, these blockchains are resistant to the modification of the data. Additionally, this information can be used on a distributed ledger that is managed by a peer-to-peer network that makes it virtually impossible to hack.

Blockchain technology is the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If this technology is good enough to protect money and other valuable assets, we should use it to protect our voter records and election results. In New York State, I introduced Bill number A8792 that calls for the State to study how to use blockchain with the county boards of elections.

Given modern technology, we should not be worried about the Russians hacking our election records and we should not lose or blunder voter records.