In brief

  • Polys is a blockchain-based voting machine.
  • It's for paper voting, rather than e-voting.
  • The blockchain records the fact that someone has voted, but doesn't record the vote itself.

Now now, settle down; just because Kaspersky is a Russian company with (ALLEGED) ties to its government, that doesn’t mean that the new blockchain-based voting system, developed by Polys, a Russian company that came out of Kaspersky’s innovation lab, is trying to manipulate elections. 

All Polys wants from you is to cast your anonymous vote on your country’s next leader through its blockchain-based voting machines.

Electoral influence showed weaknesses in the current voting system. Image: Shutterstock.

The system’s secure, it claims, because it decentralizes vote information on several blockchain nodes. Vote organisers can choose the computers on which they store this data from trusted organizations. And to use the machines, voters must prove their identities by submitting various documents, which nets them a unique and private QR code. 

Another point: The system’s for paper-based voting, not online voting. “E-voting [affords] more possibilities for remote participation and [can even increase] turnout of young people. However, if physical polling stations were to be closed completely, it would deprive and alienate certain groups of people from taking part in an election and making their voice heard,” said Roman Aleshkin, head of product at Polys, in a statement shared with Decrypt.

But here’s the thing: though the act of voting is recorded on a blockchain, the blockchain bit of the system doesn’t record voter preference and their name. While this is good for personal security—since blockchains are surprisingly open—it means that the person can only use the blockchain to check that they voted. They won’t be able to ensure that the system recorded the correct vote, for example.

The benefit, however, is that it makes audit trails possible, and prevents voters from casting their vote twice. It also makes things far more efficient; it claims it cuts down staff and resource costs for voting organizers. At least, in theory.

But when it comes to technology and voting—as the IOWA caucus showed—all hell can break lose.