Using blockchain for voting could be risky, as the technology could introduce “new vulnerabilities” to elections, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
While some organizations have argued that blockchain-based systems would make elections more secure and easier to audit, “there might be added points of attack that could compromise elections,” the report said.
“We talked to a number of experts who all indicated that they did not believe blockchain was the magic bullet answer for making voting systems more secure,” Karen Howard, the GAO’s director of Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics, told Protocol.
The GAO report, titled “Blockchain: Emerging Technology Offers Benefits for Some Applications but Faces Challenges,” examined the potential of the technology, including in the public sector. Overall, the report “found that blockchain is useful for some applications but limited or even problematic for others.”
“For example, because of its tamper resistance, it may be useful for applications involving many participants who do not necessarily trust each other,” the report said. “But it may be overly complex for a few trusted users, where traditional spreadsheets and databases may be more helpful.”
One area where blockchain shows some promise is in supply chain management, Howard said.
“The federal government is a major purchaser and supply chain tracking is a major function,” she said. The GAO found that blockchain technology could potentially be used “to replace or make more efficient” certain processes such as supply chain tracking and recording contracts, Howard said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the source of the report. This story was updated on March 24, 2022.