Russia’s Blockchain Voting System Let Users Decrypt Findings Before Count

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According to local announcements, the blockchain-based system offered constituents to clarify their own personal ballots or let third-parties do so.

Russia’s blockchain-based voting system for the constitutional revisions had an exposure that reportedly made it logical to clarify votes before the official count.

This is a commission of the “Networking and Cryptography,” or NaCi, cryptography library built by the mathematician Daniel J. Bernstein and cryptographers Tanja Lange and Peter Schwabe.

That implies that any constituent could theoretically clarify their own vote before it would get cracked by the electoral commission, or even allow third parties to do so. In order to do that, the voter had to save their private key.

Meduza conducted an experiment where all parties obtained their personal keys, and were reportedly eligible to clarify all of the votes as a result.

There is an optimistic side to the bug

According to the edition, the exposure theoretically allows employers to make sure that their employees voted, and even check their votes after provoking them to save their personal keys. There have been reports indicating that state-funded entities in Russia push their labourers to vote at the government’s request.

On the other hand, the same bug could be used to improve the clarity of the vote in the strategy where the electoral commission refuses to publish the decryption of each vote (as it did after Moscow City Duma election in 2019, where blockchain was also supposedly used).

As for the e-vote results, 62.33% of the Moscow voters supported the amendments and 37.37% opposed it. In Nizhniy Novgorod, the results were somewhat similar: 59.69% and 40.31% of the constituents voted “for” and “against” respectively.

As per the Constitutional amendments, Vladimir Putin’s term limits will be reset in 2024, meaning that he may remain president until 2036.