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Blockchain voting is the alternative for trusted democratic elections

Digital transformation will eventually make electronic voting backed by blockchain technology one of the main methods for elections all over the world….

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s lives, the relationship between governments and citizens, and the entire world economy, and of course, it has had a major impact on the United States presidential election.

Due to social isolation, a large number of American voters opted to vote by mail, which increased vote counting time, led candidate and acting President Donald Trump to judicialize the electoral process with actions in several states, and triggered intense debates about the veracity and legitimacy of the current American electoral system.

Related: Blockchain voting systems could be the future, but current flaws persist

The current voting system in the digital age

Currently, many have proposed “mobile” voting as an alternative more compatible with current times, allowing people to vote without leaving their homes.

We are able to shop online, there are professions that are performed 100% remotely — which has intensified with the current pandemic — but electoral participation still needs to be exercised in person and in a specific location.

Now, does this not go against the digital age where information and technology serve as facilitators of communication, data transfer and business transactions?

How does one make mobile, or remote, voting possible without compromising the security of electoral participation? The addition of blockchain solutions to the mobile voting process can give confidence to the electoral system and bring peace to the electoral process.

Related: Electronic voting with blockchain: An experience from Naples, Italy

The combination of sequential hashing and cryptography in a distributed structure allows for the protection of voters’ identity and the verification of absolutely all votes entered in the blockchain platform, which can enable secure and transparent voting mechanisms with electoral vote monitoring.

Imagine how good it would be to check if your vote was actually counted for the candidate chosen by you, with the absolute guarantee of the secrecy of your vote? All of this is possible with blockchain technology.

Related: The promise and reality of blockchain’s role in global elections

American electoral jurisdictions and blockchain-based pilot projects

Electoral jurisdictions in several U.S. states have tested mobile-application-based blockchain voting for state, federal and municipal elections — primarily to enable remote voting by military and civilian residents abroad via smartphones and tablets, rather than the traditional and mail, fax and paper methods.

West Virginia, for example, enabled mobile voting via blockchain for its state and federal elections back in 2018. Denver, Colorado; Utah County, Utah; and two counties in the state of Oregon also tested pilot projects for their 2019 municipal elections. In total, 29 counties in five states tested Voatz’s mobile voting app in official elections.

In all of the examples mentioned above, to the surprise of many and according to the authorities responsible for voting via blockchain, the electoral process proved to be easier and more accessible.

For that reason, there are already advocates of the use of blockchain in American elections.

The positions of American political personalities on mobile voting

As a result of the good performance mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there are already notable figures in American politics raising the banner of blockchain mobile voting, such as Bradley Tusk — an American businessman, philanthropist, political strategist and founder of Tusk Philanthropies; Mike Queen — deputy chief of staff to the West Virginia Secretary of State; and Jocelyn Bucaro — director of elections in Denver.

But because we are living in the age of polarization, there are also people strongly against mobile voting, including voting via blockchain. In that sense, we can refer to Jeremy Epstein, a member of the Association for Computing Machinery’s US Technology Policy Committee. Here, it is important to note that Epstein — who was a vice chair of the committee at the time — co-authored an electoral security report titled “Email and Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security,” which was developed in conjunction with Common Cause, the National Election Defense Coalition and the R Street Institute.

The report points to blockchain and internet voting as a target for online attacks by foreign intelligence, saying the transmission of ballots over the internet — including by email, fax and blockchain systems — makes them vulnerable.

Despite the pros and cons, are there solutions already in place that can protect citizens from electoral fraud? How would identity verification be used in the process? What projects and solutions can we think of implementing for identity verification in the voting process, and how would they work?

A blockchain solution that can enable a virtual election in the U.S.

The Voatz application, for example, looks for vulnerabilities and signs of commitment or vulnerability from the start. If the app finds that a smartphone has been compromised, it does not allow the user to vote. If the application passes security tests and third-party tools linked to it, the voter is authenticated on their mobile phone by a fingerprint or facial recognition.

The voter then provides their government identification, usually a driver’s license or passport, and takes a selfie for further authentication. Finally, the voter touches the fingerprint reader of their cell phone to verify that the smartphone is actually in the voter’s hands. In this step, the Voatz application combines the selfie taken by the voter with the image of the identity document and, after rechecking all the registration information given, confirms that the voter can vote.

Voters can use their own additional authentication factor, such as an Apple Watch, Google Authenticator or a YubiKey. And if they wish, they can still receive an SMS message or email as an additional authentication factor.

Cybersecurity in a blockchain vote

Regarding cybersecurity, as “all” software has vulnerabilities, it cannot be ignored that denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service attacks are legitimate risks in a mobile vote. Therefore, it is important to look for backup methods for possible infrastructure failure in the case of a DoS attack on the mobile voting system.

The blockchain part of the process is the least worrying in terms of security. It is just one component of the voting process, which also includes the steps of identity security, verification and validation.

Blockchain, in the case of Voatz, is for the specific application for which it was built: to distribute voting records so that it is more difficult to attack remotely. It also has cryptographic audit evidence of each transaction.

The main security risk in voting via blockchain is in the interface with the electoral jurisdiction, where the ballot is also printed with a hash or encrypted key on top. After it is stored, it is finally digitized in the election systems and software ballot-reading systems. At this stage, the electoral process “is out of reach” for Voatz.

In addition to cybersecurity issues, another point in a blockchain vote that has been questioned is: How would the voting book be processed and the ballots verified in a blockchain solution?

Taking the Voatz app as an example again, it uses a 32-node blockchain infrastructure on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, each hosting 16 nodes in the United States. Cloudflare is among several companies that provide DDoS-protection services, and Voatz has said that the system employs end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication for infrastructure nodes.

Another blockchain voting solution was used in Colombia in 2016. “Blockchain Voting for Peace” is a case study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of a referendum held in Colombia back then. In it, the nonprofit organization Democracy Earth Foundation creates a blockchain platform to allow Colombians living abroad to symbolically participate in the plebiscite on the peace treaty between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly known as FARC. The interesting thing here is the possibility of democratic coverage provided by the blockchain.

Key takeaways

From what we have seen so far, it is not an exaggeration to imagine that in the near future, many countries will see blockchain technology as an ideal voting method for a society that is increasingly digitized faster than ever.

However, even if the maturity of the technology is reached and it effectively brings greater legitimacy to the electoral process and veracity to the voting system, will we be able to overcome the cultural barriers and digital illiteracy that still exist in today’s world?

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Tatiana Revoredo is a founding member of the Oxford Blockchain Foundation and is a strategist in blockchain at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Additionally, she is an expert in blockchain business applications at MIT and is the chief strategy officer of The Global Strategy. Tatiana has been invited by the European Parliament to the Intercontinental Blockchain Conference and was invited by the Brazilian parliament to the public hearing on Bill 2303/2015. She is the author of two books: Blockchain: Tudo O Que Você Precisa Saber and Cryptocurrencies in the International Scenario: What Is the Position of Central Banks, Governments and Authorities About Cryptocurrencies?

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-voting-is-the-alternative-for-trusted-democratic-elections

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Cointelegraph

Chainalysis raises $100M in Series E funding led by Coatue

Chainalysis secures its second $100 million investment round in three months.

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Chainalysis has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in the second quarter as venture firms allocate more resources to the emerging blockchain sector.

Chainalysis raises $100M in Series E funding led by Coatue

Blockchain analytics company Chainalysis has secured $100 million in Series E financing, bringing its total valuation to a staggering $4.2 billion and highlighting once again the tremendous growth of the cryptocurrency industry.

The round was led by global investment manager Coatue, with additional participation from 9Yards Capital, Altimeter, Blackstone, GIC, Pictet, Sequoia Heritage and SVB Capital, Chainalysis announced Thursday.

Chainalysis said the funds will go toward expanding its blockchain data capabilities, which includes investing in new data tools, software and APIs.

“We believe blockchain data is the asset that can help public and private sector organizations understand the risks and opportunities surrounding this asset class and promote its adoption safely and successfully,” the company said.

Chainalysis’ valuation has more than doubled in the last quarter thanks to several strategic investments. As Cointelegraph reported, the company closed out a $100 million Series D round in March led by Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm. At the time, Chainalysis’ director of communications Maddie Kennedy told Cointelegraph that the funds will be used to expand the company’s enterprise data offering.

Related: Crypto-finance company Amber Group valued at $1B following $100M raise

Mega-million-dollar funding rounds have become commonplace in the cryptocurrency industry over the last six months. Venture firms have poured billions into crypto startups this year alone, with the likes of Andreessen Horowitz going a step further by announcing a new $2.2 billion crypto venture fund.

What’s more, dealmaking seems to be happening irrespective of current market conditions, which marks an important evolution from the 2017 bull market that saw venture funding dry up once the initial coin offering mania faded.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/chainalysis-raises-100m-in-series-e-funding-led-by-coatue

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Crypto miners eye cheap power in Texas, but fears aired over impact on the grid

Can Texas meet the electricity demands of migrating Chinese Bitcoin miners?

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The recent crackdown on crypto mining in China has seen concerns expressed over the potential impact a hashrate migration could have on Texas’ unreliable electricity market, as an increasing number of dislocated miners eye the Lone Star State.

Texas’ abundant sources of renewable energy and highly deregulated power grid make the state an obvious choice for migrating miners from China and elsewhere, with 20% of Texan electricity being generated by wind as of 2019.

Speaking to CNBC, Brandon Arvanaghi, a former security engineer at crypto exchange Gemini, predicted Texas will see “a dramatic shift over the next few months” as miners look to set up shop.

“We have governors like Greg Abbott in Texas who are promoting mining. It is going to become a real industry in the United States, which is going to be incredible,” he said, adding:

“Texas not only has the cheapest electricity in the U.S. but some of the cheapest in the globe.”

Castle Island Ventures’ founding partner, Nic Carter told CNBC that half of the world’s hashing power could ultimately exit China’s borders and will need new homes, stating:

“Every Western mining host I know has had their phones ringing off the hook. Chinese miners or miners that were domiciled in China are looking to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Northern Europe.”

Global hash rate has fallen by one-third since early May following reports that China’s mining industry would be subjected to stricter supervision.

But is the Texan power grid up to the challenge of providing power for an influx of more crypto miners? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has just requested that Texans curb their electricity usage amid the recent heatwave that saw many residents turning up their air conditioners earlier this week.

Roughly 12,000 megawatts of generation capacity was offline as of Monday — enough to power 2.5 million homes. ERCOT described the scale of forced outages as “very concerning.”

The regulator warned that a failure to heed the request could result in a repeat of the widespread winter power failures that left 69% of Texans without electricity, and roughly half without water in February. According to Buzzfeed, February’s outages could have resulted in up to 700 deaths in the state.

Angela Walch, a Texas research associate at University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies, tweeted her concerns regarding the share of Texas’ electricity being devoted to Bitcoin mining, emphasizing that her family has been “asked to reduce our air conditioning use, not run washing machines & dryers, etc.”

Obviously, Bitcoin is not the sole cause of this cluster*^% that our poor political leadership in Texas has caused.

But, I am curious to know the portion of the grid it uses. Maybe Bitcoin miners are the first to be shut down in times of grid stress.

— Angela Walch (@angela_walch) June 15, 2021

However Tierion CEO Wayne Vaughan responded by asserting that much of the electricity used to power Texan mining operations comprised stranded resources that “would never be able to reach your home to power your appliances.”

Others argued that wholesale Bitcoin mining operations could actually alleviate Texas’ power issues, with Texas’ seasonal surges in electricity demand incentivizing miners to sell power back to the state’s grid that otherwise go uncaptured.

In September 2020, the Peter Thiel-backed crypto miner Layer1 in West Texas reported it had reaped profits exceeding 700% by selling renewable electricity back to the grid amid surging summer demand.

While up-to-date data for global hashrate distribution is not available, the Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (BECI) estimates that China represented 65% of the world’s hashing power as of April 2020.

Earlier this month, district regulators in Western Xinjiang and Yunnan issued notices mandating the suspension of virtual currency mining enterprises. BECI estimates the two regions account for 40% of the country’s hash rate.

Castle Island Ventures’ founding partner, Nic Carter told CNBC that half of the world’s hashing power could ultimately exit China’s borders and will need new homes, stating:

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/crypto-miners-eye-cheap-power-in-texas-but-fears-aired-over-impact-on-the-grid

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Bitcoin price hits $40K as Paul Tudor Jones slams Fed inflation claims

Bitcoin price action is back at $40,000 as Paul Tudor Jones recommends a 5% BTC portfolio.

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Bitcoin (BTC) passed $40,000 on June 14 as a consolidation period snapped to unleash a solid breakout.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingViewBTC price breaks out past $40,000

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed BTC/USD gaining 3% in under an hour, reaching $40,500 on Bitstamp.

The largest cryptocurrency capitalized on upside which resulted from a new positive tweet from Elon Musk over possible acceptance by Tesla in the future.

Earlier, Cointelegraph reported on traders betting on a leg up to around $47,000 before a correction.

A look at buy and sell positions on major exchange Binance showed support at $38,000, wit resistance at $40,500 the next hurdle for bulls.

Buy and sell levels on Binance as of June 14. Source: Material Indicators/TwitterTudor Jones advocates 5% BTC allocation

Bitcoin reached a $2 trillion market cap because of a “dichotomy” in Federal Reserve policy which “questions” its credibility, says famous trader Paul Tudor Jones.

In an interview with CNBC on June 14, the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation sounded the alarm over advancing inflation.

After last week’s consumer price index (CPI) report showed that U.S. inflation had hit a 13-year high, Bitcoin’s deflationary nature has rarely looked so appealing.

For Tudor Jones, the idea that higher inflation is just temporary due to recent events, as suggested by the Fed and central banks in general, is a myth.

“It’s somewhat disingenuous to say, for them to say, that inflation is transitory,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box segment.

Today’s environment is entirely different to that which saw episodes of inflation in the past, such as 2013, and as such, there is little sense in the Fed applying the same forecasts.

CPI was much lower then, Tudor Jones noted, while now, unemployment and jobs also roughly equal each other.

Related: Paul Tudor Jones says Bitcoin is ‘like investing early in Apple or Google’

Meanwhile, gold and Bitcoin have provided a refuge for many. Despite the precious metal vastly underperforming Bitcoin in terms of gains, it remains near record highs.

“When you look at the Fed today and the Fed back then, you wonder how can you have such wildly different policy views on what constitutes the right levels for employment, the right levels for inflation,” he continued.

“How can you have that with an eight-year timeframe? It’s almost like a split personality and you wonder why Bitcoin has a $2 trillion market cap and gold’s at $1,865 an ounce. And the reason why is you have this dichotomy in policy that again questions — questions — the institutional credibility of something.”

Ultimately, a 5% Bitcoin allocation is one of the only things he advocates to those seeking portfolio advice.

“I say, ‘OK, listen, the only thing I know for certain is I want to have 5% in gold, 5% in Bitcoin, 5% in cash, 5% in commodities at this point in time,'” he added.

A look at buy and sell positions on major exchange Binance showed support at $38,000, wit resistance at $40,500 the next hurdle for bulls.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-price-hits-40k-as-paul-tudor-jones-slams-fed-inflation-claims

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