For the first time ever, the official U.S. Presidential election results will be posted on the ethereum and EOS blockchains by the Associated Press.
Beyond just posting the results though, the AP is using the blockchains behind the scenes in its own application programming interface (API), meaning anyone tapping into the official AP results can verify the accuracy using the blockchain data.
As Facebook, Twitter and others have taken advanced steps to fight off false claims about results earlier in the day that might influence later voters, using the unalterable blockchain to time-stamp the results could pave the way for how future elections are handled.
“AP is the gold standard in counting the vote and declaring election winners,” said Dwayne Desaulniers, AP director of data licensing, in a statement. The AP has been calling U.S. elections since 1848.
On the surface, the API is just like any other software interface, where a company gives access to its data to either a paying customer, or the general public.
First, software developers at various news and research sites, build their own mobile app for viewing results, or identify their existing app as a repository for the data. Then, during the election the app polls the API at regular intervals looking for information such as race results on a state and national level, including vote counts, delegate counts and whether or not a race has been called.
Additionally, the Associated Press voting data will be posted to Everipedia, a blockchain-based competitor to Wikipedia that uses software called an oracle to ensure the data that comes from outside the blockchain is accurate. Everipedia built its oracle using Chainlink, open-source software that uses the $4 billion link cryptocurrency as part of its consensus building process.
Once the data is verified as authentic it will be posted to the public ethereum and EOS blockchains, which in addition to tracking their native cryptocurrencies (ether and EOS respectively) can be used to track any other data in exchange for a tiny fee, called gas. Unlike bitcoin, which is largely limited to tracking the cryptocurrency, ethereum and EOS have entire computer languages that can be used to write applications that run like a website, but without centralized servers.
“Making this powerful technology more accessible is key to realizing its full potential,” said Daniel Kochis, head of business development at Chainlink in a statement. “And publishing the AP’s electoral race calls onto the blockchain for the first time is a big milestone in that journey.”
While blockchain technology has been used to track actual votes of smaller elections, and has proved somewhat promising, the AP’s use to track the results is the largest scale use of the technology to date.
Of course, while using blockchain to prove the AP election race calls are official is a potential solution to fraudulent claims designed to influence un-cast votes, the data is only as strong as the voting process itself.
Other more elaborate blockchain solutions in the works, including Voatz, Votem, and Agora Vote, purport to solve the problems of proving one’s identity remotely (a possible boon to voting during a pandemic) and providing proof that one’s vote was accurately counted. Both of which could still end up being problems that remain to be solved in this year’s election.